Friday, June 28, 2013

ODO: 3000+ miles Illinois

From Omaha, we drove to Chicago to see and stay with Julie.  The next day, we drove to Roanoke for lunch at Kelly's house and then on to Bloomington to see Nathan, his girlfriend Megan, Steve and Emily and their new baby Jonathan.  

Here's a pic of Kelly and Anthony (Anthony arrived home from work soon before we had to go).  The little boy on the left is Trevor, who Kelly babysits periodically.

Anthony painted his car camouflage and mounted a potato launcher on top.  This is legal in Roanoke, IL; he checked with the local police department.  The ignitor was broken, so Brady was a little disappointed to not play with this giant potato launcher.

Grammy Pammy / Aunt Pam holding baby Jonathan; Anna Belle really liked admiring him too.

Steve came home from work, changed clothes, and immediately offered to take my kids to the park.  Thanks Steve!  The kids loved it, and after dinner they even got a second trip to the park (with more cousins joining them).  After the second park trip, Brady came back with this lightning bug in his hand. I thought it was dead, but it showed some signs of life and actually lit up in his hand for awhile... bugs are so resiliant!  Uncle Rick had caught a lightning bug in his hand the night before; I know Brady was quite proud of himself.

I take, upload and select pictures in chronological order and they come out all over the place...  Again, I'm too lazy to fix it.  We spent the night at a hotel in Bloomington.  We were on the road by 4:05 AM the following morning, to start our 10 hours of driving.  We made really good time (partly because we didn't stop and go inside for breakfast and we strategically gave Brady very little to drink).  Construction delayed us an extra hour.  We made it to Little Rock by 2:00 PM and ate at the Flying Fish, which is in the riverside market area, right next to the Bill Clinton museum.  They had lots of fried food and fresh iced tea.

During our stay at Rick and Julie's, the kids got to ride the lawnmower with Rick.  Brady steered by himself, and actually did pretty well.  

We arrived in Chicago around 1:30 PM, I think.  We went to the Navy Pier for lunch and took a trip on the ferris wheel.  It was a fun break from the long car trip.

So, I'm in my new glasses a lot on this trip because I have pink eye in both eyes.  Between the Accutane induced dryness, Colorado dryness, driving, lack of sleep, etc., I should have seen it coming. I seem to only get pink eye on vacation, which seems strange to me. 

Anyways, the first pic has both the kids smiling, but I love how Brady's personality comes through on the second photo.

We chcecked into the Alpine Inn in Hot Springs, Arkansas at about 4:00 PM.  It's a really small place owned by a friendly Scottish couple.  Grammy found the suite for $90.  It includes a kitchen, table for 4, 2 rooms, 2 TV's, 3 queen beds, and a basket full of breakfast snacks / drinks.  Aside from that, I really like the decor and bedding.  The internet connection was pretty bad last night; I couldn't open up my blog page, let alone upload anything.  At 4:30 AM it's still pretty slow, but it's manageable.

Last, but not least, here's Steve playing with Brady and Anna Belle.

Monday, June 24, 2013


Early Sunday morning (4 AM) we left Denver to start our 8 hour drive to Omaha.  We stopped for a few good meals and a lot more potty breaks, and (with the time chance) checked into the hotel around 2:30 PM.  For dinner, we met Phillip at Chuck E Cheese.

On Monday, we went to Bass Pro Shop (right next to our hotel)  It was surprisingly quite fun!  They had large waterfalls, taxidermy bears and elk, a laser shooting range, toys, 4 wheelers, boats you can walk into, etc.  We probably spent about 3 hours playing around the store.  We initially wanted to go to the zoo, but the threat of rain (and an early morning thunder storm) kept us away.

Phillip suggested a good burger place called Sinful Burger.  I took a photo of the menu options below.  The burger was great, but the most exciting part was that with $1.50 worth of tries, Brady used the claw machine to get this stuffed animal all by himself?!?!  I know this won't be one for his college resume, but it's an accomplishment I'm still proud of.

Phillip gave us a good little tour of the Air Force Base.  It was good to see where he spends his time, and we even got to walk inside one of the planes!  After dinner, we took the kids swimming in the hotel's indoor pool.  The kids and I are wiped out, and in 4 hours, I'll wake up to shower, start packing and get on the road for another 6 hour drive.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

ODO: 2000 miles

The kids LOVED walking Mikey and JR.  Considering Anna Belle insisted on being held while the dogs were in the house, walking the dog was a big step in bravery for her.  Both the kids did really well.

The City of Thornton, CO (just north of Denver) has a great new park for kids.  The kids rode the carousel, played on the playground, and we finished at the water attraction.  I skipped the swimsuits, let them play in the clothes they had worn all day, and brought dry clothes.  Getting wet in regular clothes really bothered both of them.  Fortunately, I think they both got over it.

Friday, June 21, 2013

ODO: 1300 miles - Photo Catch Up

I haven't really talked about our terrible driving day.  On day one, I mentioned we took a little too long driving to Amarillo.  This led to a late start the following day.  A 7+ hour drive after a 9 hour day is inevitably rough on the kids, especially since we didn't have lots of fun stops along the way.  We started off the day with Brady wanting to pee on the side of the road twice (something more recreational than necessary).  We had a lot of trouble finding a gas station, but eventually managed to find one (where the town's farmers all congregated to fill up their trucks, tanks, tractors, etc. and catch up on the day's gossip).  Soon thereafter, Anna Belle's vomiting episode necessitated our fourth stop in the first two hours of driving. <sigh>

Tip alert / Favorite Things Friday Note:
Peppermint Oil, an Essential Oil

Mix Peppermint Oil with a little water or coconut oil and rub on your temples to cure a headache or rub on your arms / legs as a pest repellant.  It smells great and is good for your skin, alertness and overall well being.

An unexpected benefit: This was WONDERFUL in deodorizing the car after Anna Belle's <ahem> episode.  I wiped down the straps and base of her carseat and voila! the smell dissipated.

Here's a photo of where we were when I found the most unexpected benefit of peppermint oil... Middle. Of. Nowhere.

We were running late and realized that we would need to check into Triple B before dinner or any lingering stops.  My mom and I had come up with different game plans, but finally decided to stop at Target for a frozen lasagna, basic groceries, and a hoodie for me (because I'm too dopey to pack warmly for myself).  We were about 5 minutes from the Target, when a moderately cloudy day turned into a sudden hail storm!  Houston doesn't get a lot of hail, and when we do, I'm never driving in it.  This turned instantly scary.  People stopped under bridges, which blocked the highway for miles.  Every gas station was packed with cars taking cover.  We stopped on the side of the road, like so many other cars did.  It stressed me out too much, and I decided to slowly drive out of the mess.  It cleared soon before arriving to Target, which had seen no rain or hail... mountain weather...

I took this picture while stopped and sent it to Taylor, who used to assess hail damage at car dealerships.  Fortunately, the Sequoia seems to be undamaged.

On our full day in Colorado Springs, we went to Manitou Springs twice.  After dinner, we went to a playground to let the kids play.  Anna Belle went down the side really quickly and got really tickled with herself.  I decided to film her the second time... oops.

Random picture of the creek running along the playground area in Manitou Springs.  Behind the playground, there was a big pavilion full of teenagers, hacky sacks, skateboards and an "herbal" aroma.  This was our little reminder about Colorado legalizing marijuana.  I call this area, the Weedgarten.

These swings were occupied by some of the Weedgarteners.  When a girl realized Anna Belle was waiting for a turn, she felt really guilty.  As teenagers normally do, she and her friends flocked to my mom, whom had been sitting by herself with our bags while I ran around with the kids.  It turned out this girl was the same one we had seen earlier in the day, shoeless, shirtless and skateboarding after lunch.  It turned out she wasn't wearing sunscreen either.  She complained that she didn't know how she got a sunburn.  Good thing Grammy was there to remind her : )

We went to PJ's Bistro twice.  The waiter recommended the beef stroganoff potato pancakes.  The potato pancake most resembled a giant hash brown.  The beef stroganoff on top was awesome.  I had it for lunch and dinner.

The waiter told us that two doors down had the best ice cream ever, so we had to take the kids (and ourselves).  Anna Belle got this cute little chocolate covered marshmallow piggy.

She was pretty excited.

On our last morning in Colorado Springs, we went into the city to try out King Chef Diner, which has been in Food Magazine, Food Channel, etc. for their amazing breakfast burrito.  It did not disappoint.

This lip has come out a lot on the trip.  I can't recall what this particular incident was about.

We went to White Fence Farm on our first night in Denver.  They have a great petting zoo, playground, home cooking, live entertainment, horse drawn carriage rides and duck ponds...  I SO wish that the Landry's family would do something like this in Houston.

Today we drove up to Estes Park and went fishing at Trout Haven, which is a lodging area with a great, full service trout pond.  The poles, hooks, bait, etc. were free of charge.  We paid per inch of fish caught.  Catch and release is not permitted.  I was grateful they gut, clean and ice each fish down.

My smile looks goofy because my face is a flaky mess, particularly around the corners of my mouth.  I'm constantly applying Chapstick and lotion to my face.  Between the dry weather and completing my first week of Accutane, I expected dryness.  With that said, it's not really any more pleasant.

Brady was SO excited when Tim caught the first fish.

Mommy caught the second fish of the day, and she loves talking in third person.

We came back to Mammaw's house and Brady helped put the fish on the pan, which he was really excited about until he realized how cold the fish were.

Anna Belle helped me season the fish in the pan.  I have good little helpers.  Sorry, I didn't take any pictures after I baked it.