Monday, September 15, 2014

Traveling home

Day 28 - 30
We got up early on the morning of June 23 to head south towards home.  We did have a few fun things planned for the trip just to help break it up some.  Our first day of traveling had us going through Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas.  My parents did come with, so my middle child got to travel with Grandpa while Grandma traveled with me and the other 2.  We spent that night in Hutchinson, KS at the State Fair Campground ($20 for full hookups ~ there is toilets there to use, but no showers) in my parent's camper.  The next morning we got up and went to Strataca.  This is an underground salt mine that is still open and working.  Since we had kids in our elevator, they were kind enough to turn a light on while we went down (and back up) so the little ones wouldn't be scared.  Once we were down there, we were able to take the tram ride & train ride (both take you to spots you can't go otherwise).  The train ride is used on the rails that they used in the 20's to haul the salt.  On the tram ride, you get to hop off part way through and get a little bag of chunks of salt or a piece that will fit in your hand to keep as a souvenir.   We did spend several hours there and had a blast.
Once that was done, we went back to the camper for a quick lunch, and for us to go our separate ways.  My parents to eastern Kansas and the kids and I to Portales, NM for the night.  It was an 8 hour drive without stops.  We got to our hotel with no issues (got to cross over Route 66, but didn't take a photo since we were in a hurry), and were able to get our room luckily (they had overbooked the place, but we were okay).  The next morning we slept in a little and then got on the road heading to White Sands National Monument with a stop over in Roswell to look for the little green men.  We didn't find any aliens, I was able to get my photo taken near some UFO stuff.  We got on the road then and managed to see the World's Largest Pistachio.  We didn't have time to do the tour of farm (next time) but my middle child still got her photo with it.  We then headed towards White Sands.  If you travel there, check and make sure that Hwy 70 is open.  They do close it due to missile testing.  On our day, it was closed in the morning, but opened by the time we got there.  When you arrive there, head to the visitor's center.  There is a good movie to see (free) that explains how the dunes were formed.  They also have restrooms (flush) and a gift shop where you can buy sleds and wax.  We did purchase 2 sleds (kids ones ~ next time we are getting the adult ones) and headed out to the dunes.  Before we could enter, you have to pay the fee at the guard shack ($3/person (15 & under are free), good for 7 days).  They do have a special entrance card for Active Duty Military (and family) that get them in for free. 
Once we were finally into the Dunes area, we traveled to the picnic area (tables with covers over them with the dunes behind them).  The kids attempted to slide down the hill, but it didn't work so well for them.  They did have fun in the sand, but that might of been joy from not being stuck in the van anymore.  We had a quick lunch and then packed up to head home.
We had planned on staying at White Sands Missile Range, but since my husband was home (2 weeks early), and we had already been gone a month plus it was my birthday and I wanted my own bed and bathroom.  We had another 5 hours drives until we were home and 3 kids were happy to see their own rooms so they wouldn't have to share beds or space with anyone else. (click on the photos to enlarge)
Look for the seahorse

About the seahorse

Inside the ladies bathroom down in the mine.  I had to white out my son
On the search for little green men
The giant pistachio ~ I had to white out my child
Driving into White Sands
White Sands.  Reminds me of winter


Days 11-27
Day 11 had us traveling north to visit the Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History. The day before we had arrived, there had bed a big storm (hail, wind, and lots of rain).  Everything was pretty muddy, so not all of the animals were out in their enclosures.  We did get to see almost all of the animals though.  The kids still had a great time though which is what counts.  We had lunch with my inlaws and they headed south while I headed northeast with the kids to my parent's house.  While we were there, we got to do kids classes at both Home Depot and Lowes, see both of my grandmas, learn to make paracord/survival bracelets, see puppies, hold kittens that were just days old, visit Mall of America & Ikea, see good friends, have Dam Pie from the Dam Store, see more family & friends, attend a cooking class with my sister then putz they day away in Minneapolis, go to the Science Museum to see dinosaurs, go to the History Center to see toys of 50's, 60's, and 70's (and feel really old doing so), run/walk a 5K, see a parade, and just hang out with family.  We all had a grand time, but had issues at times adjusting to the time (2 hour time difference).  (click to enlarge photos)
If you look closely, you can see the baby giraffe.  It is 21 days old

A Giganotosaurus
Prince's suit from Purple Rain
Charles Schulz is from Minnesota

One of the toys that was on display

Dam Store Pie
What we watch being made at cooking class at Nordic Ware.  Blotkake, Desert Sand Cookies, and Rhubarb Tart


Days 4- Day 11
We spent these days with my in-laws traveling about and seeing many things. We went and saw the Ashfall Fossil Beds, went to a museum, had seafood, and saw a zoo along with a few other things in their area.  Ashfall Fossil Beds is out in the country.  If you do choose to go, use your GPS.  There are signs, but since it's out in the country, the GPS was a huge help.  The cost to visit is $5 per person ages 3 and older along with a $5 vehicle entry fee (you pay when you enter the visitor's center).  There are 7 different types of animals (horses (5 types), camels (3 types), deer, rhino, dogs (3 types), turtles (2 types), and birds (3 types)) that have been found in the bed.  All of the animals died after a volcano went off in southwest Idaho.  The website has more information about the site along with more photos of what is there. (click to enlarge photos)
These were found on the site
Inside of the barn

Also inside of the barn.  The pile of dirt is where ground level is

This is outside since they don't have the funds to cover everything up
Explaining the discovery site

The yellow flag
Walking from the visitor center down to the barn. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Arizona to parts north

Day 1
We left here the day after Memorial Day to head north.  We left early in the morning and headed to Okahoma ~ our first nights stop.  We had no issues traveling, and were able to skip using the a/c for most of the trip.  We would make gas stops as our bathroom stops, and would purchase a large cup of ice and a couple of bottles of cold water every 3 or so hours.  Day one was about 14/15 hours in the car for us (google says a 12 hour drive with no stops).   We were all extremely overjoyed to see green grass once we hit New Mexico & the Rio Grande River. 

Day 2
This started out as a much more relaxed day.  It was only suppose to be 8 hours of drive time.  We were able to stop and see our old houses in the Fort Riley, KS area, visit the PX (military version of Walmart but no food), the Commissary (military grocery store), and see how the area has changed since we left in 2010.  We then traveled onto Fort Leavenworth, KS and met my parents there.  We spent the night on post.

Day 3
We got up the next morning to go see the King Tut exhibit at Union Station in Kansas City, MO.  We all liked it except for my preteen (she is getting to the age where she doesn't like anything).  It was fun to hear about how Howard Carter and his group found the tomb and all of the stuff that was inside it.  All of the items at the exhibit were reproductions since the originals are too fragile to travel.  After we were done, we went over to the Science City, the science museum inside Union Station.  The kids all had a blast being able to touch stuff, move around, and play.  Once we were all able to get some energy out, we had a quick lunch by our cars and headed north.  I went to my in-laws in South Dakota, while my parents headed back to Minnesota. (click to enlarge photos)
When they unwrapped King Tut, these were found on his fingers, toes, and feet (these were copies)
This is a copy of the Throne that they found in the tomb


So, I never did get around to posting photos from our move.  We have since made another trip back north during the summer, and started school several weeks ago.  Life here is crazy busy with band lessons, scouting, and other activities that happen in a family. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Around here

So, the last time I wrote, it was about our upcoming move to our new state.  We had no issues with clearing our house in Georgia other than the realtor forgetting all about our move out inspection.  Luckily, he was able to send out one of his coworkers to go through it quick and we passed with flying colors.  We spent that night in a hotel in town and left early the next morning to head home to visit family.  Driving to the hotel was my first time to pull a trailer, so it was an experience.  We left our hotel early, and had no issues driving through Atlanta.  Things were going great until we stopped for gas in Calhoun (I think it was).  The side of the van was oily, but I figured it was road grime.  We hop back on the interstate, and my check engine light flips on.  My husband and one of our kids is ahead of me pulling a trailer too, so he goes ahead while I limp along to the next exit stressed to the extreme.  Luckily we were able to find a kick butt mechanic that was willing to stay late on a Saturday to help us out.  We found out that they never hooked my transmission cooler up properly in NY, and when I was in the accident in February (lady ran a red light and did over $10,000 worth of damage), they never replaced any of the hoses that had a couple of nicks in them.  3 hours later we were able to get on the road and continue heading north.  We had no issues getting to our hotel (same one that I had stayed in June with my parents outside St Louis).  We had breakfast the next day and got on the road only to deal with wind and only getting 12 mpg for mileage.  I was so happy to pull into my in-laws in South Dakota that evening and be able to relax.
  We did spend about a month visiting family, seeing new things, visiting the Omaha Zoo before we headed south on Halloween.  Our trip to Arizona was quiet with no hitches at all.  We rolled into our new town on Nov 1st happy to be out of the car again.  The next day we found our house (we knew the house number before we even left the north), and explored our new "home".  We moved in, got the kids in school, and managed to unpack with barely any hitches.  The biggest ones we had to deal with was a child needing a shot before they started school, and us missing a couple of things that we still haven't found to this day (they are replaceable). 

I'll post some photos the next post with our trip home, and then try to catch up with the blog.