Sunday, August 31, 2008

Summer Vacation

O.K., I promised the travelogue of our vacation. :-)

We rented a Suburban for our trip because we didn't think our poor van with 191,000 miles on it could make it. Plus the Suburban gave us quite a bit more square footage for stuff & people. It cost $100 per fill-up, but it could go a very long way between fill-ups. It had a DVD player in it which was great. I went to the library and stocked up on movies & some books on tape.

We left on Saturday July 26. about 6:30 am. We were in Albert Lea, MN by 9:30, and in Des Moines by lunch time. We reached Omaha by 3p. We stopped in Winter Quarters to see the temple & visitors' center. I don't know how much the kids got out of it, but Richard & I were both very touched.

We didn't feel like traveling anymore that day, so we set up camp at a KOA Kampground in Omaha. It was actually a nice set up. We got dinner there and rented some pedal cars for Sarah & Daniel to ride around. We brought 3 tents with us, so Richard & I had one, The girls had one, the younger boys had one, and John chose to sleep in the Suburban. I must have been tired because I actually slept, which for me is an odd thing to do while camping.
Sunday morning we got up and continued our journey. We had a Sunday School lesson in the car--what I was going to teach that day if we had been there. We had our lunch in Kearney, NE at a park & then kept driving. We ended up driving for 13 hours that day. YUK! We stayed at Richard's Uncle Andy's house just outside of Grand Junction, CO. We just camped all over their floors.
Monday Morning, we woke up and drove to Antimony, UT. To get there, you go to the middle of nowhere, and turn left. Unfortunately, we missed the left turn off I-70 and went another half hour until we ran into I-15. This happens to be where Cove Fort is (another Church History Site). So we stopped and took the tour there as well.
We made it to Antimony & the Rockin' R Ranch at about 2:30p. The kids found all their cousins & Richard & I were left to explore the ranch by ourselves. Kind of Add Imagenice, acutally, having some time by ourselves. There were Horses, sheep, donkies, steer. A real ranch. Sarah got to ride on one of the horses the first day. Alisha , Emily & Michael went tubing down the river.

The meals were provided for us, with lots of good food. We were well fed, but our rooms were on the 3rd floor, so we got lots of exercise running back & forth to get things that we left up there.
After dinner the first day, we had our family talent show. Our family did the 'Chigga Cheer' which the girls had learned at Girls' Camp. It got the WHOLE family involved. We also saw a 'bagpipe' act, a 'Three Piggy Opera', 'Coqui song' & Judo act, 'Little Brave Elvis', and some guitar. Mom & Dad did 'I'm an Old Cowhand from the Rio Grande'. A LOT of fun! (Sarah &Alissa) ( Emily & Kaisey) (Daniel & Austin)
So, the next day, we started out by going on a trail ride. Sarah was VERY excited that she was old enough to go too. All of us went on either the first or 2nd ride except John & Daniel. I was rather saddle sore for the next couple of days.
We played at the pond for a while. There were canoes that people could paddle around, and a zip line. Michael was one of the 3 people that fell off the zip line the first day when they tried it without instruction. Luckily, Michael came out unscathed (though he did lose his glasses, but that was a different day), but my Brother-In-Law, Ben, cracked some bones in his elbow.

After lunch Richard & I joined the group tubing down the river. That was a lot of fun. A relatively slow river with occasional 'rapids' but it was shallow enough that we could stand up & re-orient ourselves if we got upended.

We attempted archery in the afternoon, but we got rained out.

Some of the kids tried the line dancing lessons. I was a bit sore & tired, so I didn't. There was live music & a dance that night.

On Wednesday morning, we went on a hike through the rocks & hills. Good thing we went early in the morning, because it really would have been hot during the afternoon.

After lunch, they had kickball. I took a nap. Then we played a dice game outside.

That afternoon we had a 'rodeo.' We learned how to swing a rope--& rope a 'cow'. We did a relay race using the horses & our new roping skills. Then we did barrel racing.

Then came the fun part. The little kids did mutton riding. They came out fairly unscathed, though there were a few tears if they got stepped on after being tossed from the sheep. Then the guys (Richard, Ben, Jeff & Steve) did steer riding. THAT was funny! Richard rode the longest (about 2.5 seconds) but he landed on his head. Good thing they had helmets on! I am sorry that my camera battery died & I didn't get any pictures of it. BUT, my sister-in-law had a burst shot on her camera & caught this of Richard coming out of the gate.

That night we had a campfire, roasted marshmallows & watched the stars.

The next morning we said goodbye to everyone & we all went in our separate directions. We went south & discovered we were only about 1/2 hour from Bryce Canyon. So, we decided to stop for a bit. We are glad we did.

Then we kept on down the road--past Escalante Park--but all we did there was stop at the visitors' center, which was a good thing because Emily got a nosebleed there & it was good to have the paper towels from the bathroom. On the the Burr Trail after a quick stop for lunch at a little campground we found alongside the road.
The trail ride was beautiful. I've trained my children well & they oohed & ahhed appropriately at the beauty of the rock formations that surrounded them. We made it to Bullfrog Marina at Lake Powell about 4:30 & we took the 5:00 ferry across the lake & then off to Monticello. We got there around 8p.

We relaxed at Richard's parents' house for a bit over a week. Richard worked, but the rest of us relaxed & played. I read old magazines, the kids pulled out all the games and went exploring. Richard threshed wheat & when it rained, he installed a level timer on his parents' well & a reverse osmosis system in the house.

Emily turned 14 the day we left (Aug 9). Not a very exciting day for her as we spent it all in the car. We had lunch by Vail, CO, dinner in Sterling, CO and we then made it as far as Kearney, NE before we called it a night. Richard ended up getting sick that night & didn't feel well the next day, so I did all the driving on Sunday as we headed home. We made it home that night about 7pm.

So--on to the rest of August. Michael got braces on the 13th.

I thought I finally finished scrapbooking last year's CA vacation, but I found another roll of film that when I developed it, had all the pictures we took at the L.A. temple. I was very excited to find them. I did this layout with one of the pictures:I also liked this picture of our family that I found.We had a ward boating party on the 16th. That night, Richard, Alisha & I saw 'Taming of the Shrew' at a local theatre. I had about 4 friends in the cast. It was an abridged version and well done. After that, I put 'Kiss Me, Kate' on my Netflix list. I love that movie!

I went to some Girl Scout meetings. One was to explain to me about the new programs that are happening this year. The next one was for me to explain it to the other leaders. Somehow, I have ended up as the Service Unit Manager for Clear Lake. Not quite sure how that happened.

I went to lunch a couple of times with some friends. I quit just saying 'we should get together sometime', and actually started calling & arranging lunch from time to time. Its been fun.

I took the kids school shopping one day. It is a little overwhelming to see the final bill of school supplies for 6 kids all at the same time. I came home a little deflated.

We had a Cub Scout end of summer picnic one evening. Michael & I had to leave early to take him to 7th grade orientation. I will have 4 kids at the Jr/Sr High this year!

Kathy & I did our performance on the 29th at willow Ridge Nursing Home. As I was setting up, I knocked a cup of water all over the piano. This piano is old, and in the long run, it probably won't cause any lasting damage that wasn't already done, but towards the end of our performance, the keys started to swell with the moisture and started to stick, so it was hard to play the lower notes. Oh well--on with the show!

Well, School starts Tuesday. Kids will be in grades 12, 11, 9, 7, 3 & 1. Fun & hectic times ahead, I'm sure!

I hope you all didn't fall asleep!

Till next time-


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Back to School

Last time I posted, school had just gotten out. Now school is about to start again, so I guess I'll give a re-cap of our summer.

To start with, my grandfather, Jesse Stay passed away June 17. I went to CA for the funeral. Thanks so much to Tamara and Tom who helped me with frequent flyer miles to help get my ticket. The day I left, I went to the Cities in the morning to go take 2 midterms at the Univeristy of Minnesota testing center. There was construction and I missed my exit & I ended up at the Minneapolis campus instead of the St. Paul Campus and then had to negotiate my way back there and ended up being 20 min late for my test time. Luckily, the tests weren't too bad and I had both of them finished with plenty of time to spare.

So, I had lots of time to kill before my flight. My favorite radio station was doing a live broadcast in downtown Minneapolis, so I headed back that direction. I stayed there for the rest of the broadcast time. I then went over to the Mall of America because it was right by the airport. I wandered around for a while just people watching. They had re-done the amusement park since the last time I had been there. It used to be a Camp Snoopy, but it was re-done with a Nickleodeon theme. There were some new rides including a Sponge Bob roller coaster that started out going straight up, and then straight DOWN, plus a loop and a corkscrew. I am a coaster junkie. I don't care much for rides that just spin you around and around, but give me a good thrill ride and I'm there. So, I sprang for the $ to ride it once. Good ride! Worth the $!

Then it was time to head to the airport to catch my flight. I got there about 3 hours before my flight and got situated at gate G7. A nice, quitet gate. After being there for 2 hours, I realized it was a bit too quiet and my flight should start boarding soon. Check ticket. Oh! Gate G11! So, I got up and got to the proper gate just before boarding.

I got to Orange County airport. I checked the arrival screen and saw that Steve's flight was coming in at the next gate in about 10 minutes so I waited for him to show up. Mom & Dad picked us up and we went to Grandma's house. We had some dinner and then Steve & I took the bikes around the neighborhood to see the old school & friends' houses. (we lived in that neighborhood until 1983 so I had spend hundreds of hours biking that area during my youth). Then we went to the beach & found cousins & Jenny & Carl there. We hung out until it was too dark to see.

The funeral was the next day. Thew viewing was at 10:00am. The room was full of old friends & family. Uncle Greg gave the family prayer.

The funeral was at 11:00. I conducted the music and my cousin, Trace, played the organ. Ucle Tim gave the Eulogy and then the whole family (all 4 rows) stood and sang 'Families Can Be Togehter Forever.' Then Uncle Greg, Uncle Larry, Mom, Aunt Judi & Aunt Sharon gave their personal memories. Next, all grandchildren that wanted to (about 20) of us got up and sang 'How Great Thou Art.' That was powrful. I felt like I was singing with the Tabernacle Choir. We all sounded so good together. Then Uncle Randy gave the Plan of Salvation Talk. He said that Grandpa always considered this life to be part of his eternal life and lived accordingly. Finally there was a talk by the Stake President.

The Relief Society had the luncheon for us. Can't have a funeral without funeral potatoes and jello! Dad's brother Dwight had come as well, so we visited with him during lunch.

Mom, Dad, Jenny & Carl left that afternoon. Steve left Sunday right after church. I left Monday Morning. I took a shuttle to the airport and had an uneventful flight home.

Back to normal life. June 25th I went to Valley Fair with Michael and the Summer School. It was a lovely day. We just went from ride to ride and rode all the good coasters. Sarah & Daniel went to the waterpark.

On the 26th I went to Visitor's day at Summer school. I went to Sarah's sign language class & Danile's puppet class. Then we all went to the gym & watched a juggling/clown show. That night we went to the beach for a picnic.

That weekend was Clear Lake Days. There were garage sales in town Friday. Got some good items. We had our annual dairy lunch on Friday. Free nachos, icecream, milk & cheese & crackers in town. Saturday was the parade. Alisha & Emily were in the band, and Sarah & I were on the Girl Scout float.

June 29 was John's birthday. He's officially 18. Yikes! To make me feel even older, he had his girlfriend down for the week. She lives in Virginia, MN (about 3.5 hours away). She's very nice, and all the other kids like her too. She stayed through the 5th of July. Her mom & sister came on the 4th & we all went to Amery to watch fireworks together.

I've started going to Cub Scout Committe meetings. I am also signed up as the Tiger Cub leader. The whole pack has had problems since Michael left (actually before he left) the pack. But we finally seem to have some interested leadership in the Pack, and we are getting things back up & running. Richard has now joined the committe as well. I have 11 Tigers signed up for this year!

In July we went to a couple of picnics. One was for Amery Theatre. One was a Ward Party.

The Girls went to Girls' camp the week of the 14th. They had a blast!

Michael left the day after the girls got back for Scout Camp. He had a good time & earned 3 badges. Richard & I went to pick him up on the 24th & we left for our vacation early on the 25th.

On the 24th, I did something different. I had wanted sing at the local nursing homes for a while. Finally, I realized that I had a friend from the theatre who plays piano & sings as well, so I asked her if she wanted to do it with me. We put together a little act- a Broadway Review- and we performed it on the 24th at Golden Age Manor. We have 2 more 'gigs' lined up as well, including one tomorrow. I play while she sings, she plays while I sing & when we sing together. We did songs from plays that either one of us had been in. We borrowed costume pieces & props from the theatre. Our program went like this:

There's No Business Like Show Business-Both sing

My Favorite Things-I sing

SunRise, Sunset-Kathy sing

June Is Bustin' Out All Over-Kathy sing

Can't Get a Man with a Gun-I sing

Something Wonderful-I sing

Getting to Know You-Kathy sings

I could have Danced All Night-I sing

I Can't say No-I sing

You'll Never Walk Alone-Kathy Sings

It was well received, and we had a lot of fun putting it together.

Well, that may be enough for now. I'll post later with our trip travelogue.