Saturday, January 30, 2010

Don't mess with Texas

I don't know if I would say that I was ever a fan of Texas, but our trip there was actually great. We saw some pretty scenery and reconnected with some wonderful friends.

Our first big stop was to San Antonio. The RV park was nice and even better the laundry was free! When this happens, we unload the whole RV and wash everything that isn't nailed down! It is always a great thing!!!
While in San Antonio we found out that one of the guys that used to work for Dad in Alaska was living there. via my brother (who Mark knows well) we got in touch with him and he and his family graciously asked us over for dinner. What a wonderful time we had. Mark and Maria and their three children were just awesome! We had such a nice time remembering Alaska, eating, laughing and making some new memories. The picture of Texas at the top of the page is dedicated to Maria, who is from there and wouldn't let us leave her fair state until we were loaded down with TX paraphernalia. Thanks to all the Wades who made San Antonio worth the visit.

The kids with Michael, Monica and Mark

During our stay in San Antonio we went to see the Alamo, which is right in the middle of down town. We saw the IMAX movie first and then went to see the actual building and compound where the last stand off happened. Then we took a walk on the River Front, which was so peaceful and quiet. It was a nice walk.

After that we drove up to Ft. Hood, where we met up with our friend Mele. She is the daughter of our pastor from WA. When we first met Mele she was 13. Now she is a young Army LT and enjoying being back in the states after a year long tour in Korea. We had a fun visit talking about old times in WA and all that she saw while in Korea. It was great seeing her again and I hope that we will get to visit soon.
Oh and Toley loves this picture. She saw it and said "Wow daddy, you look tall!" :) Lastly we drove up to the Dallas area to visit our friends Bonnie and Brian and their cute kiddies. We met Bonnie and Brian in Germany and haven't seen them since we left. Brian is at Dallas Seminary and was kind enough to let us disrupt his weekend study time for a nice visit. We had an awesome time chatting and playing with the kids. Konig was a big hit with their young children and the talk of getting a dog is back on the fore front of their minds. Sorry! We also had a nice night out to dinner, grown-ups only, so that was just great. It was a sweet visit and we are all so happy we went.

The kids with Bella, Alece and Cal..SO CUTE!!

God is so good to give us such wonderful friends
Thanks all of you! You made Texas 10 times better................. XO Mom

Carlsbad Caverns

After sledding the white sands of NM, we decided to hit another National Park before heading south to Texas. Driving thru the mountains of eastern NM was pretty cool as we passed a ski resort and experienced about 6” of snow along much of the route. We made the trip to Carlsbad Caverns not sure what to really expect.

When you first arrive at the caverns, the view looks out on a desert that appears to be an ocean. It's quite a mirage. The first view of the caverns isn't too spectacular since you're actually driving above the caverns. The rolling hills are covered with cacti and brush and it is actually pretty boring.

Up in the visitors center there are all sorts of things to look at and touch. That is Kik's favorite thing, to touch EVERYTHING!

After experiencing the rocks that make up the caves in the Visitor’s Center (you are not allowed to touch anything once you get into the caverns), we headed down to the caverns. We spent about an hour in “the Big Room” which was quite amazing. The cavern is approx 40 acres and contains some of the deepest and highest underground sections in the world. Since we took the elevator up and down the 800' to the caverns, Z and I needed to take part in the total experience. So we walked back down (they wouldn’t let us hike up after 1100!?! -- guess they didn't think we could make it up in 5 hours). Meanwhile, mom was making a delicious lunch of quiche (one of Kik and his dad's favorites). We ate lunch and then headed to Guadalupe National Park in Texas. While it looked like a neat place to hike, it was getting late so we enjoyed the final sunset over the mountains of New Mexico and drove to an RV park in Van Horn, TX to prepare for the Texas portion of the trip. Who knew that western TX was actually quite beautiful! There are still mountains and rolling hills and just a lot of pretty land. We didn't know what to expect while we drove through this huge state, but we were in for some GREAT time of fellowship with some wonderful friends, once again............stay tuned.

Peace ~ Dad

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Z-Man's Getaway

As some of you may have heard, I had the opportunity to take a little trip back to Marquette for a few days. My awesome uncle (even if he is a Cowboys fan) was gracious enough to take care of the expenses and after convincing my mom I could fly by myself, I was all set.

I left Albuquerque at 12 o'clock on the 6th of January headed for Chicago and then onto the U.P. Everything went smooth enough and I was picked up around 9 that night. My welcome party had some last minute issues so I was picked up by the Josh Hate Club. My ride consisted of complaints about Josh's non-committal attitude and questions about why I was wearing shorts. The night was spent hanging out at our good friends, the Newman's. We ended up playing Catch Phrase for about three hours. Then it was back to Marquette to Josh's house, where I was graciously welcomed to stay for most of my trip.

Since my trip was over multiple days and most of our posts span over one day, I'll just go over the highlights:

The next day I was able to have dinner with our friends the Janofskis and then went to watch the BCS National Championship with Kevin, Matt, Garret and Will. We also played some snow bball (I got killed) and football.

Friday consisted of my first viewing of the "MANcation" video with Kyle and Lara, some more football with the guys and a party at Josh's place. While there we had some guest appearances from Susan Pevensie, Rhino the Hamster and Taylor Lautner! Chocolate Eclair cake, Taboo and Telephone rounded out the night.

Saturday morning tasted a lot like home. After a delicious breakfast from Mrs. Michels, Josh, Ryan and I got a lesson in Snow Management 101 from Mr. Michels. In layman's terms that means shoveling. We then went to Krook's hill with Bekah, Lara and Laura. Krook's hill is a luge like sledding hill over in a neighboring town. Its completely ice which makes for some awesome sledding! Another late night party and some more Catch Phrase capped the day off.

Sunday morning we went to church. It was nice to be in a calmer atmosphere and see all of our friends there. Pastor Brian's sermon was very thought-provoking and it was great to see him and Pastor Hank again. We then went to the Newman's lake house to watch Ice Age 3, sample some pasties and eat Twizzlers! That night I went over to the Rapavis to watch the Packers....I won't go into the details. My bad mood didn't last long when I went back to the lake house to watch Enchanted with Lara, Laura, Hannah and Beth (please keep your comments to yourself).

I spent the night at the Newman's and left the next morning for Albuquerque. You all will be happy to know that I did arrive safe and sound, even if that was over two weeks ago. I had a great time hanging out with all of my friends. I even had fun chilling with the elders: the ever-gracious Mrs. Michels, the fun-loving Kosas and Mrs. Newman and the always-entertaining Mr. Michels and Ricky New (Mr. Newman).

Things hadn't changed much while I was gone. Dad picked me up with our bikes and we biked the nine miles back to our RV. Although he and I continue to argue about whether it was a vacation for me or a vacation for them, I still had a blast!


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sand Sledding

On our way through New Mexico we stopped at White Sands National Monument, it turned out to be one of our favorite stops.
This is pretty much what it looked like, sand dunes with a bit of vegetation with pretty blue mountains in the background. Not what I expected from NM!
We stopped to take a hike, pulled off our shoes (or at least I did) and buried our toes in the sand.
It looked like snow and we even saw some snow on the ground. There is a make shift path that we followed --sort of-- and we saw lots of different animal tracks. Sometimes we saw what looked like rock walls (like this one) except they would crumble if you tried to climb them. Unfortunately it's hard to get a family shot when there's no one around, so we have lots of kid-pictures! After having a good look around and exploring, we headed back to the RV to drive further on, into the hills better for sledding. We bought/rented (they have some deal...?) a sled before hand and also blew up another blow up sled we brought along. We were ready to go.
It was lots of fun and you went pretty fast.
I ended up taking a tumble and doing a backwards somersault down the hill, getting sand in my hair and down my back, but we had a great time anyway!
Kik kept trying to get his blow up sled to work, but it didn't slide. It is harder climbing up sand hills then snow hills, because it doesn't stick together, it just slides down.
The BFG and I tried racing down the hill by rolling. He won, but it was lots of fun and you go really fast. Plus you don't have to carry a sled back up!

We snapped the shot below at the top of the hill, which turned out really well.
Altogether we had a great time at White Sands, but who knows if we'll get back to New Mexico, it's not high on our list!


Monday, January 18, 2010

Grand Canyon

Okay….Hi! I never know how to start off! Um, so after Mommy’s friends Anice’s house we tried to find a campsite close to the stadium so the boys could bike there, (poor Zach) so they could try to “scalp” tickets. After looking and calling and looking and calling we finally, well, had to stay in a hotel on Luke Air Force Base. Toley, Kik and I all really love hotels though. They’re so…clean! But we only stayed there for a night. Mommy and Daddy got the bed inside, Z and Kik got the parents bed (with flannel sheets I might add) and Toley and I got stuck up on our bed. The next day (Sunday) we went to church and drove awhile to the next campsite. We got there pretty late, so I don’t exactly know what it was called or looked like. That night Daddy took out the planner (uh oh) everybody started to run, but it was actually okay. We just discussed what we were going to do tomorrow. Well we decided to go to the Grand Canyon tomorrow, instead of doing….something else. So off we went. We’ve all seen pictures and movies (Brady bunch season 3!) of the Grand Canyon but like everything else you never really know what it’s like until you get there! Well I didn’t really expect it to be so cold in AZ! I guess it is winter. We all bundled up and…went to the visitor’s center. We bought a couple post cards then went back, got the dog put some more stuff on and headed off. There are a couple walks you can do, we just kind of hiked around on the trail and videoed and took pics. It’s so huge and wide open; Toley and Mommy were contemplating on how whoever discovered it, discovered it! Well it’s so hard to describe so I’ll just let you look at pics. After we looked awhile, Daddy and Z-man (like always) went on a longer walk, while the rest of us went in the car and drove to meet them somewhere. After looking around and walking…well, we didn’t really know where. We finally found them. We took a couple pictures in front of it and then went back to the “arv” and drove a little more to another part of it. There’s a huge watch tower that was built in the…um…a long time ago! There’s a little gift shop and then you can walk up, up, up to the very top and there’s a bunch of windows you can look out of and look down at the canyon! It was really neat! All of our 1st times I think. Kik just cannot walk on any bit of ice though so that was kind of a problem. Well everything else is pictures. You can just kind of imagine how really awesome it is! I think Z might be writing next ‘bout MI. Maybe. We had a blast when he was there!! Ha! At least Toley and I did! We didn’t have any football for a whole week! sigh, we enjoyed it while it lasted.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

More friends CA/AZ

Hi all,

Just a quick blog as things are busy around here. The New Year hit and so did the school books. Lots of grading and checking to make sure everyone is on track. Some are, some aren't.......things never change!
We spent the week between Christmas and New Years in San Diego. It was strange being on the beach in December. But, it was nice. We were at a Marine base - Camp Pendelton - and it was quiet and you could hear the waves crashing at night, LOVE THAT!

While we were there one of the cadets from West Point the Dad coached in boxing came to visit. We had just found out the month before that he was living in San Diego, so when we arrived we looked him up. Jamey came down with his 2 year old daughter and had a little visit. It was so nice to see him. He looks the same and I am sure we have aged! HA! The last time we saw him Pooh had just been born, so that was a while ago.

Next we headed to AZ. Dad's aunt and uncle spend a few months down there each year. It was so nice to see family after so many months on the road. Deb and Rog took us around, showed us the deal with the RV park, hung out at the pool with us, and had New Years Day dinner with us. It was fun. We played some games as well (which the girls, Deb and I love to do, but the boys don't!) and this always a great time. We laughed and just had a nice quiet time hanging out.

After that the we drove north to Phoenix and while the boys tried to get tickets to the Packer game here in AZ, the girls, Kik and I drove to Whole foods. While I was there I decided to try and get in touch with my friend Anice. She and I met in 6th grade and she moved to AZ with her family at the end of 9th grade/beginning of 10th. We have kept in touch off and on all these years and I happened to have her phone number. I called her up and off we went to find her home, only 6 miles from Whole Foods.

We only stayed a short time, but it was so fun to chat and meet her family. We were remembering old times listening to the GoGo's and hiking at Ramapo. So much fun. She has an easy laugh and welcomed us into her home, even though she had just gotten back from vacation only the day before.

Next we are headed east to places unknown, but I am sure you will hear about them soon enough. The weather in the southwest is warm and sunny, but I need some grass, pine trees and snow! But the chance to see all of this has been amazing.

XO Mom

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Little Backtracking

I hope you all forgive me for the delay in this post. I don’t really have any excuses except for procrastinating so I’ll just leave it at that.

During all the delays while waiting to fix our RV’s various problems, we were able to spend some time in Monterey, which may be my favorite place in California. It’s kind of a poor man’s Los Angeles; right on the coast, beautiful beaches and quite big. The nice thing about it was it wasn’t so “big-city,” like LA or San Diego. Even with the amount of people it was relatively calm and quiet. There were still your average Cali hippies but it was very cool. We were able to stay for about 5 days, which gave us time to do all sorts of things. The first thing we got to see was a small Fisherman’s Wharf, where we practically ate a lunch of free samples of “the best clam chowder on the Wharf.” The Wharf is situated alongside a small marina which, apparently, is the local seals favorite hangout. Every time we went by this spot there would be at least one seal floating in the water or just sitting on rocks. One of these lugs had to be sitting on the same rock for hours!

As Toley posted earlier we were also able to go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which was really cool. That Sunday we had the opportunity to go see our former pastor from Garmisch, who is the Chaplain of the post chapel at the Presidio. It was great to see Chaplain Pacania and his family who have kids roughly the same ages as us. So we went out for some pizza and got to reminisce about old times. It was great to see them!
After another unfortunate, although not unexpected, delay with the RV we rented a car and drove up to San Francisco for the day. Although it was a typical day in San Fran (wet and miserable) it was really cool to see Alcatraz, the Fisherman’s Wharf and famed trolley cars. The clouds would keep coming in and out so we were able to get some cool shots of “the Rock”. We were able to tour around the Wharf (stopping at EVERY store to shop), see the sights and check out Ghirardelli Square. We also decided to experience firsthand how steep some of the roads are. Some of them might as well have been roller coasters and gave Mom the “heebie-jeebies”. Unfortunately I seemed to be the only one in the mood for throwing caution to the wind, so we didn’t really experience any of the hills.

Thankfully after all of this we were able to finally get the RV fixed and headed on our way down the California coast. Even if Dad now has a few more gray hairs!