Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Over the weekend

We had a great weekend visiting with some of James' family. Aunt Mary, Cousins Shelley and Savannah from Baton Rouge came to Houston for the weekend. They stayed with James' brother's family, but we got to spend time with them on Friday and Saturday night (along with Jay's family). We had so much fun visiting with everybody!

We enjoyed some BBQ

and ice cream.

My niece Katelyn hanging out with the younger kids.

I made these jalapeno thingies for the first time. A friend gave me the recipe, and it's basically just cream cheese stuffed in jalapenos with bacon wrapped around it. They were good, but I thought they'd be really, really good. I had James slice all the jalapenos... he didn't wear any gloves and his hands are still burning today. Ouch!

Abby and Savannah riding the "horse." I don't know if Savannah fell for that one since they own real horses back home.

My nephew Brayden... he is the cutest little guy - and totally fearless!!

Brayden's not the only fearless one, look at 2 1/2 year old Savannah! If only I could get my 4 year olds to do this!

Onto Saffron's appointment from Saturday. James was 50% sure Saffron would not be coming back home with him. Can we say, "glass half empty, dear?" I thought that was a little extreme. She did come home. Anyway, her official diagnosis:

Senility. And an infection in her leg.

Our poor dog is getting old. The vet said we just need to love her a lot. Apparently Goldens do not live that long. That will be a hard day. Saffron was James' mother's "baby." We took her in after his mom had passed away. So when she dies, it's going to be extra sad. I feel like his mom is here with us through Saffron. Yeah, a little crazy, but true. I don't even want to think about that day.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Road Trip - Day 13 & 14. We're Home!

We are finally home. The last 2 days of driving took forever. Total mileage on our trip was 3,501 miles (and by golly I am counting that extra mile).

We're going home. Yipee!

Goodbye New Mexico.

Day 13 took us from SW Colorado to Lubbock. I wanted to get to Lubbock early to look around, but that just didn't happen. 650 miles in a day takes time. All the stores were closed around campus so we didn't get any TTU gear. We did drive around the campus which brought back so many memories. College days were so easy... it's funny you don't recognize that until after you graduate.

This is Austin in front of the stadium (kind of hard to tell).

The other thing I wanted to do was go to the local Weinerschnitzel. We don't have any of these in the Houston area (trust me I've looked). I lived on this garbage all through college. Oh it was so good, actually better than what I remember. I didn't take a picture which is probably a good thing... don't want to upset anyone's stomach and I won't have to salivate the rest of my life looking at the pictures. I was kind of worried if we'd be feeling well the next day, but everyone was good. :) Well James took a look and didn't partake in any of its glory - his loss.

We left Lubbock at 6 AM sharp to guarantee us arriving in time to pick up Saffron. James drove the entire way... his way of making up for doing zero mountain driving. It was nice. I read the whole time and the kids did really well. We only made two stops. Again, no mention of needing to go potty or anything. Our kids did so good in the car this whole trip. James made good time and we arrived home by 3:00.

There was some of this on the way.

And I must mention that there was not one stop by a law enforcement official the entire trip. Amazing. Especially considering how happy my right foot can get sometimes.

We were welcomed back into town with 101 degree sweltering heat. Big difference between the nice cool weather we had experienced just a day earlier. We didn't set the sprinklers while we were gone - I assumed we'd get rain a few days. Boy was I wrong. We didn't get one drop and our poor lawn took a beating. It is crazy hot here. Miserable. Even the pool feels like a hot tub.

I think Saffron had a rough couple of weeks in doggie jail. She has a boo boo on her arm I think we might have to get checked out. She slept really well that night. So did I. I've actually slept better than ever since we've gotten home. Guess that's what a serious lack of sleep on a 2-week trip will do to you.

Anyway - we had terrific time, but I'm glad to get back on a schedule. So is Abby. Back to eating better, working out, and oh how I was suffering from my Chic-Fil-A Southwest Salad withdrawals. I remedied that the very first day. :) It feels so good to be back.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Road Trip - Day 12

Total Mileage: 180 miles
Total number times we almost lost our football to a dog: 5
Total times Emily bossed her siblings around: 7
Total number of times our kids asked if they could move here: 3

Well we are getting close to wrapping up our vacation. The next 2 days are just driving days, although after our 600 mile trip tomorrow we are headed to THE university. Texas Tech of course. Home of the Red Raiders. I haven't been there in such a long time... can't wait to see it again, and finally replace some of our Longhorn gear. :) Hehe.

Today we were in SW Colorado again, Mancos to be exact. We contemplated staying in our awesome cabin instead of doing what we had planned today, but we came to see Mesa Verde and the Four Corners, so that is what we did.

First off we had breakfast at a small cafe in Mancos. Nothing is big in this town. All these small towns are so pricey. We spent way too much on breakfast. That's not the worst thing, except we thought we were staying at a Bed & Breakfast. Evidently it's just a Bed.

This was the first of many Abby meltdowns today. I'm not sure if she had a rough night last night, she is missing home, or this fresh air is messing with her brain. She was really testing us. Abby and I had to go to the car while the others were finishing up. As I was dragging her out she thought she was getting a cookie. Ha.

Off we went to Mesa Verde, home of the Ancestral Puebloans a thousand of years ago. So much history, too many kiddos to really get all that we could out of it. I love this kind of stuff and could have spent hours here.

We visited the museum and one of the cliff dwellings. They had a bunch of cool exhibits. We walked down quite awhile and I knew it was going to be rough coming back up. I was right. This is Abby before another meltdown. I didn't really take any pictures during them... nothing I care to remember. :)

Austin and I climbed a ladder to the bottom and found this room. Thinking about the harsh winters these people endured... it's amazing. We even learned that they faced over 2 decades of droughts. Amazing people.

There have been a few fires that came through, the most recent being in 2000. A lightning strike ignited a 23,000 acre fire. You can sure tell.

We headed back down the mountain and started our trek to Four Corners. The owner of our cabin said 35 minutes to the monument from Mesa Verde. Yeah. Try an hour and a half. Construction everywhere. We would have turned around an hour into it, but this was something Austin was really looking forward to. He is really into states these days and can even recite all 50 of them in alphabetical order.

Four Corners is in the middle of Nowhere, America. In the picture you'll notice that Austin only touched 3 states (although before the picture he was in all 4... thank goodness. I have no intention of ever going back here).

After our adventurous day, we treated ourselves to some Indian flatbread. Yummy. Tons of calories I'm sure. Navajos sure eat good. For the record - they are just over-priced beignets.

Do you think he liked it?

The plan was to be home around 1ish, but it was more like 4ish. I was anxious to see if all of our things made it, considering we couldn't lock the doors. I was thrilled that we weren't victims of the first robbery at Sundance Bear. We also wanted to go explore the 80 acres we were on. We didn't make it to the bottom of the canyon but sure had fun.

Austin has had a year of gymnastics training, obviously you can see by this tuck jump over a weed.

The kiddos were dying to see Oreo the dog tonight, so we went to the "Great Room" and fetched her. They then put on a magic show, every kid disappearing for a bit. Highly entertaining.

Oh and we think now that something in Abby's cheek is broken. It is still bruised and it feels very weird. They have their 4 year check up on the Monday after we get back... so we'll see what Dr. Bel has to say.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Road Trip - Day 11

Total Mileage: 143 miles
Total pubs James visited without getting a beer: 1
Total times we drove on dirt roads: 3
Total number of books completed: 1
Total times James closed his eyes on the mountain trip: lots

We started out the day in Ouray, CO. My dad, who lives in the Denver area, drove 300+ miles to hang out with us today. Dad left at 4:00 in the morning to meet us for the day. Before he arrived, James and Austin decided to toss around the football at the hotel.

Grandpa arrived and we started out our day with a small hike up to Box Canyon Waterfall.

After the hike, the kids needed some ice cream! We walked around this cute little town, nestled between the Rockies, about an hour or so.

The drive from Ouray to Silverton on Hwy. 550 is one of the top 10 scenic drives in the country. I totally believe it. At times, it was scarier than Pikes Peak. Really steep dropoffs. We stopped several places along the way to take in the beauty. According to James, sometimes beauty equals terror.

Austin, Abby and Grandpa.

Here's Austin at about 11,000 feet.

A family portrait.

Here is a quick history lesson. This was the town of Chattanooga, CO. It was a small mining town from 1883-1889. In '89, an avalanche took away most of the town. There is so much history in this area. Lots of dreams buried here.

We arrived in Durango around 4ish. Dad took us to dinner to a nice steak/seafood/Mexican place. Yes, it did have all of those things on the menu! Then we went shopping around town. The kids got a few gifts from Grandpa, and we had to say goodbye to him. He had a long drive ahead of him and we needed to head to our next pitstop (gosh, sometimes I feel like I am on the Amazing Race... my favorite show EVER!), Mancos.

We arrived shortly before 8:00 and fell in love with our cabin. If you are ever in the area, please check this place out... it is so incredibly nice. The in-keepers are awesome, full of knowledge in this area - the home is on 80 acres and very cozy, somewhat isolated, and full of beautiful sites everywhere. A fact for those readers out there - our host told us that the area where we were staying was mentioned on page 6 of Passin' Through by Louis L'Amour. Interesting.

The cabin is actually quite large. In fact, James asked the hosts for a key and he laughed. "We haven't locked our doors in 12 years." Coming from Houston, it's pretty strange not locking your doors at night. We did end up locking them from the inside tonight. So far so good. We asked about wildlife here and he mentioned that they have seen one mountain lion and a few bears over the last decade, but overall it's pretty safe. We'll take his word for it.

Their 2 dogs greeted us and the kids played with them until the sun went down. Oreo and Chester are great dogs. At least the girls did not have their dress up clothes with them - they might not have liked that too much.

Our cabin.

A beautiful SW Colorado sunset.

Happy Father's Day, Dad! We enjoyed spending the day with you in Colorado!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Road Trip - Day #10

Total Mileage: 260 miles
Total number of fits while hiking: 3
Total number of dirt roads we drove on: 3
Total times James pushed the phantom brake: 10
Total masterpieces that Abby created: 2
Total times we laughed today: Lots

There was no way we could have had a worse day than yesterday. Today was so much better. We toured Aspen a little this morning. I wanted to go to the North Face store, but they weren't open yet. Good thing, because I highly doubt they would have had a sale rack in Aspen, CO. Here are a few pictures from this morning.

The drive to Gunnison was beautiful. We stopped off the not so busy highway to sink in the beauty around us. There were many points where we could stop. This was one of them.

Almost every place we saw, there was a Kodak moment. We had a lot of traveling to do, so we kept it kind of limited.

3 kiddos on a rock. If they stepped back about 3 feet, James would have had a heart attack. The river was really moving.

One of many waterfalls we saw.

We stopped for lunch at a cafe in Hotchkiss, CO - they claim to be the friendliest town in CO. From what we saw, I think I might agree. The kiddos colored before our very expensive food arrived (expensive for what we got). Hey, at least we are helping small town America, right? The waitress checked on us about 8 times in about 30 minutes. Yes, it was friendly.

Here's Abby creating one of her masterpieces. Our little lefty has a gift.

We made our way to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. AAA directions failed us again. We ended up getting there at the not so popular entrance. It was actually the hard core, "back-country" part of the park. We went hiking again (this time about 3 miles) and I was really afraid we would run into some snakes. Or get a bee sting. Or something worse. Thank goodness my fears were unrealistic. All we saw were some bees and chipmunks (which seriously are so much cuter than the squirrels in Houston). Notice very few pictures of Abby. I think she was very tired, which was why there were numerous fits from her the entire way. Ugh. Once again, James got a workout - carrying the kiddos around with him.

Look - a stick! Actually it was her sword.

The hike was totally worth the view.

Since it was the tougher part of the park, we were pretty much alone. Colorado is God's country.

Off we were to Ouray, CO (the Switzerland of the Rockies). Such a cute little town this is! I will post some pictures in my next post, but what a neat place we are staying in. We checked into the local Best Western, where I thought we had a couple of rooms since there were bunk beds. Instead this is what the second room looked like. HAHA. It's a closet with bunk beds!

James went to a local "saloon" to pick up some dinner tonight. He talked to someone who lives here and she said that living here is totally awesome. I believe it. Everywhere you look, you're surrounded by mountains. Beautiful.