Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I am a little relieved to say that I gained 3 lbs. this week. I know that sounds crazy...you have no idea! I ate, and ate, and ate, and didn't exercise regularly. I ran 3 times while I was on vacation...walked quite a bit throughout our trip, but not every day walks like I would have if I were home. I was really looking for a 5 to 7 lb. gain. Seriously...not kidding! I actually took my scales with me. I think before we got to Aunt Vicki's I was actually down a couple more lbs. However, that quickly changed and I let my guard completely down. I actually did probably gain 5, but according to my last weigh-in at Weight Watchers it was 3lbs. Looks like I'm headed to my 20 lbs. goal again. That stinks! Oh well, as long as I don't gain all 20 back I'll be happy with that. Here's to next week!

Mom weighed in today (Wed.) and gained 1.6 lbs. We're not doing so hot here lately...any suggestions...motivation...would be great!

Monday, June 29, 2009

A huge thank you...

goes out to Royse's Plumbing...thanks to Mike and Derek and the rest of the crew we have AIR CONDITIONING!!! You have no idea how grateful we are. Originally they weren't going to be able to get us taken care of until Thursday...however, someone was looking out for us and they were able to get the system picked up and put in today...pretty quick action! THANK YOU!!

Also, thanks to Larry and Debbie and my parents as well. We stayed at both places over the weekend to get some relief from the heat. It's nice to know we're always welcome to stay there at any time.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Home Sweet Home!

Actually...it's not all that sweet. We are glad to be home, however, home hasn't been all that welcoming. I knew we had it way too good. Luck has been on our side the whole way. Our luck has changed.

So yesterday our AC in the Durango took a crap, we came home to an AC that was struck by lightning. It was 87 degrees in the house...and we had it set at 80...so we knew immediately something was wrong. So far, everything else is looking good. Thank goodness for wonderful neighbors...our yard, flowers, fish, and cat are doing great...even though Pepper deserves so much less than that. He had a "moment" while we were away. Does anyone have a good home for a cat? Oh, and I have had Maddox at the doc today. He has strep...so at least we can get that under control now...what's next? Hopefully nothing. It looks like we'll be staying at a bed and breakfast for a night or two (or 3 or 6) unless we decide to tackle the heat. It's sounding like it may be Thursday before we can get a new one put in. Which will it be...we hear there are two great places close by...Dorn Bed and Breakfast...or the Kocher Farms. We may have to try each one out.

Glad to be home...still unpacking if anyone's interested?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Day 13 - Are we there yet?

We ended up leaving Colby, Kansas around 11:00am as we thought we would. We had planned on driving as far as we could...possibly home. Those thoughts were quickly shattered as soon as we stopped for gas and a potty break around 1:30pm. We had our first real feel of the hot, humid, sauna-like air that we had been hearing so much about from everyone back home. It seems we chose a good week to be gone. When we got back into the Durango to continue our journey home we noticed that the only air coming out of the vents was HOT. Larry tried everything he could from inside to figure out what was wrong...we pulled over about 3 miles later and something smelled hot...it was obviously something to do with the AC...it was done, gone, we were able to "enjoy" that heat the rest of the day. What a dilemma...I thought we should pull over and find someone, somewhere to take a look at it and determine whether it was something that could be easily fixed. Larry thought we should just drive and drive and drive til we got home. He was dripping with sweat...it was nice!

We drove until we got to the Missouri border and then I started hearing talk of stopping. Larry had decided that maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea to give the boys a break. They were troopers through the whole heat issue. We had the windows open...making it loud. We couldn't really listen to the dvd player without blaring it over the wind noise. However after a while we got used to it and made it work. We didn't hear a peep out of either of the boys until we stopped at 6:30. It could have been due to the fact that you couldn't hear what they were saying anyway. Maybe they just gave up on talking. We must have two of the best boys when it comes to traveling. I don't use "best" to describe them very often...so you have to know they were awesome for us today...of all days! When we stopped in Columbia, Missouri this evening Maddox finally asked Gavin why he was wet...he just noticed he was hot! Actually I'm not sure that Maddox is back to his old self yet. His little cheeks were red...from sweat...from fever...not sure! Either way he hung in there.

This evening we hung out at the hotel and swam again. Just think at this time tomorrow night we should be in our own bed. Ahhh! Anybody want to help unpack! We've had a memorable vacation for sure, but are ready to see our family and friends soon!

Day 12 - Denver Zoo...Time with family

I didn't get to posting last night...we drove until about 12:30am after leaving Larry's Grandma's. We thought we might try to drive through the night...possibly. The one thing I did forget to bring this trip was my glasses though...and after wearing my contacts all day I knew that the chances of me being able to see very well were pretty slim. We made it to Colby, Kansas last night. I tried to sleep...and I did for about an hour and a half. I was sitting in the back with the boys. Gavin was all over the place...legs...arms...head. Maddox was out sound...he started running a slight temp. yesterday evening. He slept through supper and just wasn't himself. We thought he may just be tired, but were pretty sure there was something else going on. We decided we wouldn't really be gaining anything by trying to drive all night. So, we pulled into Colby. The first 2 hotels we stopped at were full...that's never happened to us. So, we finally got a room and the boys were wide awake.

We had a full day so it's probably good we stopped to get a good night's sleep. We started the day by meeting Larry's Grandma at her apartment in Lakewood. We went out to breakfast with her and Larry's Aunt Denise and her 4 kids. We haven't met the youngest two. They are 3 and 11 months..the older two we haven't seen since they were 4 and 6. They are now 17 and 19. Breakfast was good, but I was a little pre-occupied by Maddox. He was terrible. He quickly figured out that he had a little shadown. Everything that he did, Jayen did...He was running, rolling, tickling, laughing, having a good ole time. We made a quick trip outside...he did better, but still. He blew his straw wrapper across the room, spilled his water...you name it. He was having a good time...way too much fun for a restaurant.

we then went to the Denver Zoo. It was a nice change. We are huge fans of the St. Louis Zoo. Of all the zoos we've been to, we like it the best. However, Denver's was really enjoyable too. It's nice to see some different animals...the boys had a good time. It was really hot though. We stopped for lots of drinks and to find shade. It ended up cooling off after a while. A storm moved through. We found shelter next to a building while the boys ran through the rain. It wasn't lightning or anything so we let them run wild. Maddox started it and then Gavin and Jayen joined in. The boys were leading Jayen through the big puddles and he was loving it. They were holding hands and running around for about 30 minutes or so. They were soaked. Then, after the rain let up we looked around at a few more animals and then decided to call it quits.

We headed back to Larry's Grandma's and let the boys swim in the pool there. I did a couple loads of laundry while we were there and then we decided to head out to eat at The White Fence Farm...very cool restaurant. We were able to pet some farm animals...feed the goats...and check out everything else there..LOTS of history there. It was a really neat place. There's a story about it...I grabbed a newspaper pamphlet about it, but I haven't read it yet so I'll have to fill you in later on the details. Supper was pretty quiet. Maddox fell asleep on my lap and Gavin and Jayen buddied up. You would have thought all these boys had known each other forever. We headed back to Larry's Grandma's to hang out for a while and then said our good byes. We are very glad we stopped. It was a really nice visit.

This morning Maddox wanted to just watch cartoons while Gavin swam. As Gavin was finishing up swimming Maddox decided he wanted to swim for a bit, so he dipped in for a short swim and we are headed out. It'll probably be about 11:00 by the time we get out of here. We don't really know what our plans are for this evening. If we push it really hard we could make it home, but I'm thinking the boys will probably figure out the plans for us as the day goes on.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Day 11 - Still in Colorado

This morning we enjoyed breakfast on Aunt Vicki again...she sent some leftover bacon and sausage with us and the hotel we stayed at didn't have a continental breakfast, but it did have a microwave and plates...so we were all set. We were searching for something to do in Estes Park that we hadn't really done yet during our vacation. We decided on rafting...as we had suspected the boys weren't old enough. The rivers are wild there...and thought we'd check into it anyway. Sure enough...had to be 7 and weigh 50 lbs. They had the 50 lb. part down, but not the age. So, we looked around at a few of the shops downtown and got some suggestions from the locals on what to do. We were on the hunt for wildlife...and things the kids would enjoy. One lady was very helpful...she suggested packing a lunch and heading up into the Rocky Mountain National Forest to hike...which Gavin has been wanting to "climb" a mountain throughout the trip...so we stopped at a deli and got some sandwiches and drinks and headed that direction. We went to Sprague Lake and walked around the nature walk there...then headed up the hills...to find out that making our own trail wasn't such a good idea. We headed back down to find some actual hiking trails...and off we went. We walked about 2 minutes and the boys were hungry...mostly Maddox. We talked them into walking a little further and Gavin found a perfect spot to eat. There was a huge rock alongside the river just the right size for spreading out our things. So quiet...even the boys were amazed by the sound of the river and the cool air coming off the water. I thought we'd see other people along the trail...we didn't. We saw horse trails...I thought the horseback riding sounded like a cool way to actually get around and see MORE. I enjoyed the hiking...but it was warmer than we were used to...and Maddox isn't a fast walker...he gets easily distracted by pine cones...other trails...THE RIVER...cliffs...you know, that sort of thing. Larry is afraid of horses...I didn't know this. He swore the boys were too young to ride and that they would cause the horses to run out of control...etc. etc...so we didn't ride horses. We were all grouchy today...except Gavin...I don't think he was at all...Larry had his moments...Maddox had his moments...and I did too. Honestly, after it was all said and done we decided that it was the heat...not that it was even that hot, but in comparison to what we were used to...it was. A front blew over and things cooled off...and we were fine. We finished our hiking experience. It was fun...the boys could run, climb, find ants, pick up rocks, sticks, whatever...they were in heaven. It did start to sprinkle as we were done so we drove around the mountains for a while...didn't see any wildlife...just people enjoying their horseback riding...and let me tell you...those horses were SO out of control. I made that comment to Larry...I think that might have been one of his "moments".

We headed into town to check out a place that everyone had mentioned to us that is great for kids. It was...we rode go-karts, bumper boats, bumper cars, played mini-golf and enjoyed the nice afternoon. We then said goodbye to Estes Park and headed to Lakewood to see Larry's Grandma. We are really glad we took our slight detour. We saw more mountains, but it was a different kind of mountains...the rockies are different. We were just surrounded by rock on our drive in and out of town. Amazing! On the way into traffic was crazy busy on I-25 headed into Denver...not sure why...it was about 7:00 when we got close to there. So, we took a little different route and grabbed some supper and headed to find a hotel close to Grandma Utley's. The boys didn't swim tonight...early to bed...long day!

Tomorrow's plans...meeting Grandma Utley and Aunt Denise and her kids...going out for breakfast and heading to the zoo.

Good night!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Day 10 - Estes Park, Colorado

This was not in our plans for today...or this vacation at all...but hey, isn't that what vacations are all about. We left Aunt Vicki's around 11:00 this morning and headed for Lakewood, Colorado to see Larry's Grandma. We planned on it being around a 6 to 7 hour drive which is probably how long it would have been. We were on the road for 7 hours today only we took a slight detour. We kept hearing about Estes Park throughout a couple different conversations and could see the Rocky Mountains off from a distance as we were traveling down I-25...and thought about heading to the mountains again...indecisive...we've seen mountains already...but these are different mountains...this is vacation...it'll make us at least a day behind...I'll miss my 5K on Saturday...we'll probably never drive this way again anytime soon...we're not ready to come home yet...Kim said it was worth it...you get the idea! So, here we are in Estes Park...it's not as far as we thought it was out of the way...only about 22 miles of winding roads, rocky scenery, waterfalls, fast flowing rivers...vs. the 92 miles we thought it was due to a map-reading error by BOTH of us. We had a late start this morning so us being us made it into the hotel later than we wanted, but it's all good. We were ready for some more vacationing after our trip today. It went EXCELLENT! I was afraid that the ride home would be absolutely terrible since it went so well on the way out and we have done at least 12 more hours of driving since we arrived at Aunt Vicki's. The boys were better than we could have imagined. Gavin and I had a competition to see who could find the most antelope along the way. We played for at least 2 hours...seriously...who needs video games, or a dvd player when you have wildlife. We found over 100...we didn't start counting right away and after we hit 100 we decided to call it quits. We also saw a couple herds of buffalo around Cheyenne, Wyoming.

We ate at a Mexican Restaurant for supper called Casa Grande...it looked like a little hole in the wall type place, but what we didn't realize was that it was right along the river and once you made it inside it was actually really nice and had a great view of the river from the side windows...very deceiving! We made it to our hotel around 9pm and swam until 10pm. The boys were out in a flash tonight. The hotel we're staying at is nicer than I would've imagined for the price. The plan for tomorrow is to do some things here and then head to Lakewood later in the evening. What we do depends on the weather tomorrow. We can already feel a change in the weather. We slowly watched our temp. gauge on the Durango rise as we drove further East. When we left Evanston it said 58 degrees this morning and it was actually nice...the sun was shining down which gave us a warm feeling. Today before we made our way up into the mountains it read 82 degrees...and when we made it up into Estes Park it was 70 degrees. We saw a lot of men trout fishing out in the river...the boys got a kick out of them wearing their waders. They'd like to try it...too bad the waters would carry them away in a heartbeat.

On our way home...these are some of the comments I heard.

Gavin: I don't really want to leave Wyoming...
Larry: You know, we could just head to "The property" and nobody would ever find us...ever! (it's somewhat along our way home)
Gavin (later in the day): I wish we could have mountains in Illinois
Gavin: Can we come back in December...when there's snow everywhere?
Gavin: You know, I'm really not ready to go home yet...are you guys?
Maddox: Why do we have to go to Illinois...it's going to take a LONG time.

Maddox didn't have as much to say about it as Gavin did, but he's having the same feeling as the rest of us. You know how sometimes when you're away from home you have a feeling of wanting to get back into a routine and be home in your own bed...and just be home...we don't have that...not at all...I guess that means that Aunt Vicki and Kim are way too good to us and have completely spoiled us.

Enough of my ramblings for the night...good night to all...the fireplace is making me warm and cozy and ready for some zzzzz's.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Day 9 - Peacefulness...

Ahhh...our last day in Wyoming...sad to say it or even think it.

Our last day went something like this: Got up around 8:00am. The boys and Larry went with Kim on a ride in her Mustang with the top down. The boys were cold so they didn't go too far. Vicki made us breakfast again...then began getting things loaded up to head to "The Property" as they call it. Larry then drove the boys and I around in the Mustang. We went down to the River Walk here in Evanston. The Bear River runs through town and they have a walking path along the way...and a bridge going across. We didn't get to spend much time there, but it's a sight to see. I remember it from the last time we were here. Only it's been fixed up a lot since then. The river was flowing as fast as could be...was afraid the boys would fall in though. We headed back home and then to the property. It's a little over an hour away. It's on the other side of the Uinta Mountains than "the cabin" which we went to yesterday. Also just a couple miles from the Wasatch National Forest. We took the boys' dirtbikes and Vicki took her Razor. The property is located on a ridge alongside the mountain. It's not at the top, but it's way up there...had to kick in the 4WD. Vicki had hoped to have her cabin up and ready to stay in during our stay, but due to all the rain it was a no go. Gavin wanted to stay anyway...he thought we could just sleep in our vehicles. Honestly, I would have. It was like nothing I can explain...just Peace and Quiet (other than the boys) sunshine, trees, a view like none other, 4-wheelin,and great food. It was the perfect way to end our stay. Larry, Maddox, and I rode on the Razor while Gavin rode his dirtbike down the hillside and down the main road to the reservoir. Kim took the dogs down to swim and we followed. Gavin wasn't liking riding up at the property because he didn't think there was enough room to ride. He was used to riding with Chance last week and had no boundaries. This was perfect for him. We were able to help him figure out his gears and how to climb hills and go down them. I never thought I'd say this, but I feel totally comfortable with him riding. He is doing AWESOME! He is so responsible when it comes to riding...now Maddox on the other hand is another story. He's got a couple years to go before I'll trust him too much.
When we made it to the reservoir (lake as I see it) the boys had some more space to ride so we got Maddox's bike out of the truck and they rode around for a while. We then decided to head back and Maddox wanted to ride his dirtbike too. It's a main road...dirt road though...not a lot of traffic at all. We let him and he did really well too. He started out doing "tricks" and then realized that doing tricks on the road wasn't a good idea. He kept wandering out to the middle of the road, but quickly got back on track. Kim was following us all the way in case his dirtbike battery wore down. It did, but not til we were almost back to the property. Maddox ran over a snake and it slithered away...that was his proudest moment. Gavin lead the way...then Maddox...then us in the Razor...then Kim. She was laughing to herself on the way home...we looked like a family of ducks...only backwards. Great experience for both of the boys...it was beautiful scenery too. There are ATV trails out there too. We spent a little time on the trails...Gavin on his dirtbike and us on the razor. I think we could all do that all day long.
Gavin even made it up all the hills on his own as we made our way back. No problem at all. When we got back it was time for supper. Vicki cooked it up while we were out riding. After supper, Kim headed back to the house since she has to go back to work in the morning. We all stayed and took the Razor out again...Vicki let Gavin and Maddox drive on her lap. We drove out to the Meeks Cabins...a historical site in the National Forest. Then, it was time to pack up and head home. We made it home just before 10:00pm. It doesn't get dark here until 9:30 or so and so it's hard to get the kids to bed before then anyway. Everyone's called it a night at this point except for Larry and I. Larry's watching his wrestling and I'm blogging. Ahhhh...vacation! I don't have a care in the world. The only responsibility I've had this vacation is doing laundry and hanging out with the boys...which, by the way, is much more enjoyable without having to worry about cleaning house, or at least thinking that's what I should be doing. Tomorrow the plan is to leave around 10:00am and head to see Larry's Grandma in Colorado. It's about a 6 or 7 hour drive. Hopefully the boys are ready for those long days again.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Day 8 - Lazy Day

Today has been a lazy day all in all. We slept in until 9:20am and it was raining. It did clear up after an hour or so. I went for a walk/run while Larry played pool with the boys. I'm not doing so hot...no way I'm going to be meeting that goal I thought I could meet before leaving. I don't know what I was thinking. Aunt Vicki and Kim are awesome cooks...and let's just say we've been enjoying it! Larry took the boys to the skate park again this morning to ride their scooters. They needed to get outside badly! We just messed around here until about 2:30 and then Vicki took us up to her cabin in Utah...it was about a 45 minute drive. We cooked hot dogs over the fire pit and had a little snack out there. Larry and I couldn't believe how much the area around the cabin has changed due to pine beetles attacking the pine trees around here. Vicki had to cut down a LOT of her trees that had been damaged by them. Crazy. We drove up to the top of the mountain to check it out. We think we could handle having a cabin like that. It did start raining a little so we played Go Fish in the cabin until the rain stopped. It didn't last long and then we were back on the road. Her cabin is just down the road from Wasatch National Forest...beautiful...there aren't words to describe it. We could drive up and down that mountainous area all day long and never get tired of it. The temp. dropped about 10 degrees by the time we made it to the top. It was about 45 degrees up there...snow still on the ground in a lot of places. The boys played in the snow a little and then we headed back down the mountain. We saw a moose...it was lying along the road. Someone had taken it's antlers...kind of sad! We took the scenic route home. It was like driving out in the country near Mom and Dad's...only tons of cows...and we were along side a mountain like you see on television. There were even 4 cows in the road checking us out. They sort of run wild around here.
We headed home for supper that Kim had prepared...ribeye, baked potatoes, salad, and brownies...see what I mean! Larry and the boys are playing Wii as we speak...we're thinking it's going to be early to bed for them tonight...no naps today! I have no idea what's in store for tomorrow, but we're pretty sure that tomorrow will be our last full day in Wyoming. :( We're slowly getting closer to reality...not sure when we'll be home yet. The plan was to be back by Saturday morning so I could participate in Nick's Race. I have no business running a race...believe me...but if we're back in time...I'll try!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Day 7 - Jackson Hole, Teton Village, and back to Evanston

This morning we decided to let the boys sleep as long as they could. They woke up around 8:30 and went to bed at nearly the same time as the night before. The sad thing is that we're now an hour behind our IL time. Their bedtime the last couple nights has been a little before before midnight and wake up time around 9:30am. Not exactly normal for them...we're on vacation, right!

We ate breakfast at the hotel...someone made the mistake of letting the boys sit together. It wasn't quiet...we could tell they were tired. Again, one 4 yr. old in particular was whiny, already. It wasn't terrible though. We checked out of the hotel and then headed downtown Jackson Hole to do some shopping. We got some t-shirts and postcards and took some photos. We had planned on going to Teton Village which was just a short drive away to let the boys do some rock climbing...the rock wall was under construction so that didn't work out, but we did get to ride the new tram ride up to the top of Rendevous Mountain. It was HIGH...AWESOME view! The boys were loving it...had a snowball fight at the top...saw a Moose on the way back down...deer on the way up...It was 10,100 feet high. We did a little shopping/looking around the shops there and headed home. Maddox was out IMMEDIATELY...Gavin fell asleep too after a couple hours. We had about a 3 1/2 hr. drive. I slept most of the end of the ride also. One highlight of the ride home was when we were still in the big mountains...we saw a Mama Moose and her baby right next to the road. The boys didn't get to see the Moose that the rest of us saw during our tram ride...and this was much closer up. They were very excited...now the only thing we haven't seen is elk. We've still got some time though.

We came home and just hung out the rest of the evening. It was rainy this evening...so Larry and the boys played the Wii with Aunt Vicki. We're going to wait and see about tomorrow...the rain has been non-stop here according to people around here. It has rained every day for the last 2 weeks. I haven't minded it though. It seems that most of it is short-lived...most of the day is beautiful...then a shower or two. We are either headed to Aunt Vicki's "property" where she was having a cabin put up...due to the rain it hasn't happened though. The boys would be able to ride their dirtbikes there and we could hang out there throughout the day OR we are going to go to the cabin she has in the mountains in Utah...hmmm...what'll it be! I guess you'll have to wait til tomorrow...or the next day to find out.

Day 6 - Snow King Resort/Jackson Hole

I'm using this as a journal at this point, a way for me to keep my days straight and remember all the things we've done.

We started our day at 8 am. Had to wake the boys up...they swam until 10:00 the night before and then by the time they were able to wind down it was about 10:40pm. We had a full day ahead of us so we wanted to get up and going fairly early. Aunt Vicki and Kim told us we HAD to eat at Bubba's. We even had coupons for the free breakfast buffet at the hotel, but we went out to eat breakfast anyway. It was an experience. I wish I would've taken photos of our plates before we dug into them. The boys had pancakes. The pancakes were as large as the plate. Larry had biscuits and gravy and the biscuits were HUGE! It was delicious and of course we were set to go for the long day ahead of us. We headed back to the resort to ride some rides. They have alpine slides, bungee trampolines, mini golf, and typically a scenic chair lift up the mountain, but it was closed until next week. We spent until about 2:00 riding the alpine slides and playing mini golf...it was fun. I had never experienced the alpine slide. I was actually a little scared to due to Larry's last experience. When we first started dating he went to Pigeon Forge with his parents and came back with these horrendous scabs on his arms and legs. He still has scars to this day. I quickly found out that only idiots that go entirely too fast wreck like he did. He admitted that all along, but alpine slides aren't nearly as "fast" as I thought they were. Gavin wasn't really old enough to ride by himself, but after a couple times down with Larry and Aunt Vicki they decided he was responsible enough to do it on his own and none of the workers ever said anything. He did really well with it. Around 2:00 we decided to head in for a nap due to a certain 4 yr old being whiny...I won't mention any names. We all napped for about an hour and then headed back out to alpine slide. I forgot to mention that earlier in the morning both of the boys tried out the bungee trampoline. Gavin did flips on it, but Maddox wasn't ready for that. They both went super high though.

In the afternoon we split up a little. Gavin wanted to ride the alpine slides a LOT and Maddox wanted to bungee jump a LOT so I stayed with Maddox and Vicki went with Gavin. The rides were all close together so Kim and Larry hung out inbetween the two. At the end I worked up the nerve to try the bungee trampoline. I didn't want to do it when there was a long line of people watching...I saw a teenage girl "trying" to do it earlier and she was just dangling there. I did not want to be that girl. I ended up trying it out and it was fun. I won't do it again. Well, I won't do it again and flip...and flip...and flip some more. I'm not much of a gymnast and therefore I haven't done many flips not even on the trampoline. Larry said he wanted to see at least one and I did want to try. I did and obviously liked it because I probably did 20. By the end Larry said I looked like I was ready to blow chunks. It is funny...we've got it on video. I didn't feel too hot for about the next hour. I was a little queezy to say the least!

Around 6:00 we decided to head out for a drive just outside of town to the National Elk Refuge to find some animals. It was really a sight to see...didn't see any elk. I think that Larry and I could just drive around all day and not get tired of looking at the scenery. The boys are fine for a while, then we plug in a movie and everyone's happy. Vicki brought the boys some binoculars to look for animals. We did see a wolf chasing some birds...that was the highlight of the refuge.

We also drove North of town into the Grand Teton National Forest. We took a side road and drove for quite a ways. We saw antelope...and all of a sudden we saw a herd of buffalo. So cool...they were right up on the road. They weren't all that large. They looked large to us, but Vicki and Kim weren't sure why they weren't as large as usual...maybe a rough winter. There were so many and even baby ones too. The boys got to see one rolling around...probably getting bugs off of himself.

We then drove on North a little further to get some photos with the Tetons in the background and headed back after a while. It was around 8:00 so we were off to eat.

For supper we ate at The Gun Barrel. It is a steakhouse that serves up all sorts of wild game. We got to eat elk, buffalo ribs, and buffalo sirloin. All really good...we ate too much! The boys both ordered steak off the kids menu and ate it ALL! They were starved, plus it was really good.

We went back to the hotel around 9:30 or so and decided it was time for bed...the boys really wanted to swim, but we knew that we'd all be better off if they went to bed. The boys had some huckleberry ice cream as a "midnight" snack and headed to bed.

A long and busy day! Kind of sad to say it's our last night at Jackson Hole...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Day 5 - Headed to Jackson Hole

The decision was made...we headed to Jackson Hole this morning around 11:00. It was about a 3 1/2 hour drive. Totally worth it though. If we hadn't come this far we wouldn't have seen "real" mountains...we're loving it. It was raining most of the morning and on our drive here. Once we made it close to Jackson it cleared up and actually didn't appear to have even rained here at all. We saw people We're staying at The Snow King Resort. The resort itself has lots for the boys to do. We haven't really done any of it just yet. The boys are swimming as I type. We're sitting around a table with our cocktails...ahhhh!

When we arrived here this afternoon we downtown to eat a late lunch...since we had a late breakfast this morning. We went to a Ripley's Beleive it or Not museum...Larry has always wanted to go to one of those. The boys are officially cowboys now...they have their very own "big" buckled belts...Gavin's cracks me up. It is so not what I would want him to ever wear in public. It's ok though. He picked it out himself and he is so happy. Maddox got a belt and a cowboy hat. hH is now the sheriff of Jackson Hole, so he thinks. As we were walking back to the hotel...he was walking in people's yards...and when we asked him to stop he said it was ok because HE WAS THE SHERIFF!

We watched the Jackson Hole Western Shoot-out on the square and headed back to the hotel. The boys are swimming in the outdoor pool. It's chilly out here, but the pool is heated and they are having a ball. Still working on getting photos on here...I have soooo many I want to share, but it's just not working.

Good night!

Day 4 - Hanging out at aunt Vicki's

Today we slept in a little...Aunt Vicki made us a delicious breakfast and then we headed to her coworker/friend's house to let the boys ride their dirtbikes. Dave lives on the edge of town near a park, unlike parks around here. They have a gate that leads out into this wide open area which has a playground area...it was great for the boys riding their bikes. Too bad we don't have that at home. I was a little nervous when Gavin took off because he was trying to keep up with the big boy. Dave has a son, Chance, who is 9 and has been riding dirtbikes since he was 5. He was the previous owner of Gavin's new bike. Chance has Gavin all set up with a chest protector, gloves, goggles, and boots. We were there from 10am-4pm. They rode and rode, and rode some more. Toward the end of the afternoon they'd come in for drinks and a jump on the trampoline and then head back out. Gavin is learning. He's doing really well!

After we got back to Vicki's we had a cookout and took the dogs for their daily walk. We had plans to go to the ponds and riverwalk in Evanston, but it downpoured. Probably a good thing because we all went to bed early.

It did rain off and on throughout the day. It's the strangest thing. It'll be beautiful out...then all of a sudden it'll rain a tad and the temp. will drop about 20 degrees...then it'll be sun shiny and warm again. I definitely got some sun and didn't even know it. I guess being closer to the sun makes a big difference. It's amazing how being at high altitudes affects your body. We're finding ourselves out of breath a lot easier than usual.

I'm still having trouble getting photos to upload, which completely stinks.

Not missing Illinois at all at this point... :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Day 3 - We made it!

We're here...and completely enjoying it! I hear it is rainy and warm back home. I'm not sure what today's high was. It was 65 when we arrived and it warmed up as time went on. The nights are definitely chilly here, but it is so nice. No humidity...love it!

We slept in a tad this morning and didn't leave the hotel until 8 am. We arrived in Evanston around 12:30 pm making one stop along the way. The boys slept the last hour of the drive...talked them into taking a nap so we could take a shortcut. Gavin knew better, but he fell asleep anyway.

I'm not able to load my photos tonight...bummer, I know. We've been busy...doing nothing. The boys are enjoying Aunt Vicki's 2 dogs. Rica, the German Shepard loves to play Frisbee...all day. We have been discussing going to Jackson Hole...or going to Park City...can't decide. We took a walk to the school nearby to play some baseball and found a really cool skate park there to play on too. Wish I had my photos to show that part. Aunt Vicki surprised Gavin with a "real" dirtbike and he has been smiling from ear to ear all night. We had a bbq tonight with some of her friends, coworkers, and neighbors...Vicki had all sorts of delicious food made up. Wish I could cook like that! The boys took a bath in the whirlpool...lots of bubbles...lots of fun for them. It was the first real bath they had since we left. The last two nights I told them their swim in the pool counted since we were on vacation. I'm sure I'm leaving out plenty, but we're definitely enjoying our time in Evanston so far. The only thing we have planned for tomorrow at this point is sleeping in as long as the boys will let us and going to some friends of Vicki's...the ones she bought the dirtbike off of...to let Gavin ride. They have a track in their backyard, so it ought to be interesting. He already dumped it on it's side in the driveway. He didn't realize how heavy it was and was used to his battery operated one. He leaned over and down he and the bike went.

I better get to bed...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Day 2 - Almost there!

We made it to Wyoming...we're getting closer. We've driven approximately 17 hours 1100 some miles. Today we started off at 7 am and made 3 stops...one at Kearney, Nebraska (there was a neat bridge/museum so we decided to see what it was all about) We learned a lot...Gavin some...Maddox not so much! Glad we stopped though. The museum had headphones that could be worn and as you walked through each area the stories would change. I don't know that we ever stayed in one area long enough to hear the entire story...but it was still cool! We stopped at Ogallala, NE at a rest area for a picnic lunch complete with blanket...super nice out! Then our final stop of the day... Laramie, Wyoming. It's starting to get pretty...the boys are enjoying the "mountains" so far...little do they know that what we've seen so far is nothing in comparison to what we will see. We came to see Aunt Vicki around 10 years ago...we flew...and I didn't realize or have just forgotten how different Wyoming is...not a lot of houses..or anything really just rolling hills and rock formations. It's to the point where we want to make sure we have plenty of gas in the tank before we head to the next town because there's so many miles inbetween them. So different...
It did rain for about 45 minutes once we got into Wyoming. We were driving right into the storm...I guess there was a tornado not too terribly far away. It was crazy to be driving into this storm and just seeing open road and rain clouds for miles...no trees to block the way.

Gavin lost all of his "dollars" today. He had a moment...and Larry had a moment too. Therefore, he took all of Gavin's dollars away at once. I don't think anybody knew that was an option, but I guess it is. It was when we stopped at the rest area. Gavin came out to the parking lot and just put his hands on the bumper of this jeep and kind of jumped while putting his weight on the jeep. There were people in the jeep. I don't know if he thought it was Larry's jeep for a moment or what. Larry wouldn't care if he did that to his jeep...however, you don't touch another vehicles let alone act like a monkey on it. Gavin actually does know that. Needless to say after an apology and a loss of lots of dollars Gavin was excellent while we were at the rest area and afterwards so he was lucky and got them all back.

We're staying at a hotel recommended by Larry's parents. The boys and Larry are swimming as I blog. I am headed that direction here soon. I need to get to bed a little earlier tonight. My plan of sleeping during the trip today didn't really happen so I'm planning to get to bed earlier tonight.

Oh, and Rylin....the boys thought of you a lot today as we saw lots of trains this afternoon. You could see them for miles and miles...nothing blocking the view.

We were driving along...and saw this. Decided to take a photo through the windshield...actually I took a couple hanging my camera out the window and just snapping shots...I was way off and thought it would not surprise me if I would manage to drop my new camera right on I-80.
We decided to stop in Kearney, NE to check this place out. Lots of interesting things...surprised actually we weren't asked to leave the premises. No, the boys didn't see this...Larry doing this anyway. Gavin noticed the big "weiner"...touched it...walked away...
Inside the museum...the windows at the back actually had cowboys out that window and door talking and riding horses...they don't show up in the photo. It was as if you were in the home...
From this exact point it is exactly 1700 some miles East to Boston and the same number of miles to a city in California...San francisco...maybe. Tells you how well I remember that. I'd have to look back at the brochure on that one.
Rest area...lunch break
Nebraska....exciting, huh
Getting ready to drive into the storm
More of Wyoming
Hanging out while Larry checked us into the hotel
Tomorrow's plan...arrive at our destination. We have approximately 300 miles to go. Lots of miles, but it'll seem short in comparison to our drive the last couple days.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Day 1 - Wyoming Bound!

Larry and I had planned on getting up at 4...leaving by 5am this morning. We were close...sort of ...we got up at 4:35 and left at 6:00am. Of course it took longer for us to load everything up than we thought it would. I don't even remember the alarm going off at 4, but I know I woke up to it going off at 4:35 meaning it went off 5 times before I realized it. Nice! We are on vacation though...didn't get too shook about it.

We stopped 4 times along the way...once outside of St. Louis to gas up...once in ??? at a Bass Pro Shop...once for a picnic lunch at a rest area near Columbia, MO...and once before entering Nebraska for a potty break. We cannot complain...the kids have done great so far...1 day down...1 full day left...and probably a few hours on Tues. morning. Today we drove 620 miles/9 hours of drive time...not bad! We have approximately 850 miles to go. Larry drove all but the last hour and a half...he was getting tired. He tells me he can't sleep when I'm driving...he was snoring within seconds of me taking off and his arms were "flailing" around. He definitely kept me awake with his wild movements. Come to find out he was having a nightmare...

We arrived in Lincoln, Nebraska around 5:00 this evening. We have done nothing but swim, eat at Cracker Barrel, swim, watch TV and relax...it was good for us all!

The boys are sleeping, Larry is playing Gameboy (Thanks Brenda...) I'm blogging (and I actually have nothing else better here to be doing...no laundry to be folded, no floors to sweep, etc. etc..who could ask for anything more! (not that I would actually be doing those things anyway, but I would definitely be thinking that I should be!)

*Grandpa Dorn...the boys have both already spent half their $5 in case you were wandering...Gavin bought a smoothie and lemon heads....Maddox bought a GIANT Laffy Taffy and a GIANT box of Mike and Ike's.

*I saw this suggestion somewhere and so far it's working/helping at least...we'll see how tomorrow goes. I gave each of the boys 7 one dollar bills (just because that's all I had) I know that's plenty...to me it's worth every penny to keep peace in our vehicle. If anyone asks "Are we there yet?" (We do give them updates on how far we have...because I would want to know too if I were them) - they have to pay me a dollar...if anyone has "hands on" each other....they have to pay me a dollar...if anyone argues or says something unkind to the other...they have to pay me a dollar. They can earn their dollars back by saying something nice, being extra quiet (this is super hard for both of them), you get the idea. Today I think Maddox lost $2 and got them back pretty quick. Gavin lost 6 or 8....I lost count. The last 3 were within the last hour...it was time to stop.
In the end they get to keep however many $$ they have to spend on souvenirs or to put in their piggy banks, whatever they decide. Just thought I'd share that.
Last night the boys and Larry sat down to make a plan....
Our set-up...

Raring to go at 6am. :)
Taking a break at Bass Pro somewhere in Missouri...none of us had ever been to one...the boys liked the fish.
Nice smiles first Maddox....then funny faces!
Hanging out at the pool

Ahhhh...this is the life!
Rockin' at the Cracker Barrel

Whew...that was long. However, it's going to be a great "journal" for me if I can keep up with this. Love to our families...we are missing you already (a little)!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Our Big Inventor...

Gavin finished up with Camp Invention today...he had a LOT of fun! He was always ready to go every day...here he is with his certificate. This is a map of Sludge City...a city that the kids saved and convinced the mayor to change it's habits in order to save the city by going green.
This is also Sludge City...
This was the hospital...complete with a helicopter and landing pad on top
My personal favorite...I'm sure it will be Grandpa Dorn's too!
A rocket made to help them return to earth...from Planet ZAK. They crashed-landed...had to make their own food out of rocks. Good thing there was NOT a shortage of blue tape!
Gavin's "Popeye Log Ride" he made for an amusement park. Someday someone may use his prototype...you never know!
Roller coaster
His favorite invention..."The Bug Zapper" - Push the button and lightning comes out...killing any unwanted bugs.
Bzzzzzzz....I must've had a bug on me!
Gavin's already thinking about returning next year...he had a lot of fun with it...and learned a lot along the way! Thanks to everyone who gave us recyclables and old broken appliances to use!

Wyoming...here we come!

Two more days and we'll be headed West! We are driving to Wyoming to see Aunt Vicki...we may be crazy...who knows? We're going to have fun regardless...

A couple of weeks ago the boys were playing with Play-Doh while it was raining outside and Gavin pulled out some moose and bear cookie cutters that Aunt Vicki sent us a while back.

Gavin taking pictures of his masterpieces with his camera...

I have received much advice on how to keep the kids occupied during our drive...approximately 24 hours. We're all set up. I am currently blogging and putting off packing. I have packed some so we're ahead of where I usually am at this point. Of course, if you have any great ideas to occupy our time feel free to pass the ideas along.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Happy Birthday Grandpa Dorn!

Wishing Grandpa Dorn a Happy 56th Birthday today!
Hope it has been a good one so far! We love you!

Do I have to (Take 3)

You know what my title means...I gained. Gained .2 lbs! I did a 10 mile walk on Saturday...did lots of camping though. Ate more than I should've. What more is there to say...I still plan on keeping my goal of losing 6 lbs. by June 30th. I will have to stay on track during our trip to Wyoming. Hopefully this goal will help.

Mom weighed in today. She LOST! Down 3.2 lbs.! Way to go Mom! Proud of you! You will catch up with me at the rate I'm moving.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Just like my Daddy...

Last night Larry bought the boys each a hat at Glik's...Gavin has had his on since the moment he woke up...Maddox didn't wake up until a little later, but sure enough this was the first I saw of him. They are both loving their "lids". Gavin even put his sunglasses on his hat like Dad does...why is it that these boys look up to their Dad so much? Hmmmm....
Thanks Dad for the hats! Gavin and Maddox

Breakfast in Boots

Tuesday morning the boys were outside by 7:15am. They enjoyed eating their cereal outdoors. They wore their "hunting" boots. Gavin wanted to wear jeans like his Dad does for work. Gavin loaded up his trailer to prepare for his ride in this year's Fall Festival with Grandpa Kocher...he's determined. Hope Grandpa decides to be in the parade...if not, we may have to enter Gavin in it regardless.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Congratulations Taylor!

We wanted to send out an early WooHoo to you! Our next couple days are going to be full and I wanted to make sure you knew that we're going to be thinking of you Friday night. We would love to be there and hear your speech...we definitely expect to hear it via video later on. I cannot believe you're graduating from High School...I still remember subbing for your class when you were in 2nd grade. It was my first day subbing ever or at least one of my first...and I'm pretty sure it was chaos. I don't remember much other than your little smile looking up at me...so proud I was your teacher. Now look at you all grown up...can't wait to have you closer to home!

Here are just a few photos from your party last weekend. We were glad to be there with you!

Taylor and Jordan with their Great Grandma Tate
The little boys playing b-ball with the big boys
Enjoying the fire pit
Maddox giving Taylor her card...so proud of his dance that he danced during our entire wal-mart trip. We were getting some funny looks!
Love you Tay....so proud of you!


Yesterday I noticed that Maddox had a little scab on his shoulder blade...really small. Thought it was weird...kind of picked at it. It came halfway off and then he took off to play or see what Gavin was doing...no big deal. I wasn't concerned about it, although I did think it was odd that it was where it was and that it was so tiny. When Larry got home from work he noticed it too and picked at it a little. It was the tiniest tick we'd ever seen. Larry hadn't washed his hands yet after getting home from work. There is a dirt spot toward the left side of his finger, but the "spot" on the right is the tick. Crazy! I don't know that we would've even noticed it had it been on his head. blurry..still shows it's size though.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Do I have to AGAIN? (updated)

I gained again...knew that I would. I actually gained less than I thought I would. Only up .4 lbs.

We went to my niece, Taylor's, graduation party in Indiana this weekend. Lots and lots of good food...need I say more!

Now, to see how Mom does. She was there too...I have proof!

Ahhh...PRICELESS...that look is priceless! What's that in your hand...could it be a cookie? I think I might see TWO more on that plate...hmmm...let's see how weigh-in goes for you tomorrow. Totally kidding...if only someone would've taken photos of my plate and my trips to the food table and my snacks on the ride home!

In case you're wandering why we give Mom such a hard time...she loves every moment of it! Don't you Mom!

Update: This just in...Mom gained...2.4 lbs. It's not shocking...neither was my gain. We're going to get back on track this week!!!

My goal is to lose 6 more lbs. by June 30th...keep in mind we'll be driving to Wyoming the last two weeks in June and I plan to run Nick's Race on the 28th as long as we are back by then. Hopefully that will keep me focused while I'm on vacation!

Mom's goal is to make it to her 20 lb. goal by July 7th which means losing 5.8 lbs by then. Please pray for her! (She asked that I add that!)