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Saturday, February 27, 2010


We made it to Jacksonville tonight.

It was really a nice week and we're not nearly as exhausted as we were expecting by now. We were able to visit with Holly in Wichita, and then we got to see Cindy and Dave in Kansas City. Cindy made us authentic Italian lasagna completely from scratch (including the noodles!) and it was delicious. It was so good to see them again. Cindy came by this morning and we were able to visit some while we packed the house, then we got sandwiches from the same deli as last summer-those were delicious. Then off we went.

Once we got to my mom's, it took awhile to get parked and power hooked up because there just isn't enough room here to maneuver and we needed a few different outlets on different breakers. We seem to be okay here at the moment and between the furnace and two space heaters, it's not too cold in the house. We'll need to do some tweaking tomorrow when it's light out but we'll be fine for the night.

It's strange to be back here. But the kids are excited to see Grandma and I know we need to take care of things, so I think it will be a good few weeks.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


It has been sort of a whirlwind the last few days, but we've been making great progress on our driving. By Sunday night we made it to Oklahoma City, so we rested yesterday. The campground was only about a mile from the science museum, which turned out to be one of the best museums we have visited yet. It was really fantastic and interesting for the kids and for us, and not very crowded. Jeremy and I even got to ride a segway. We're already thinking about how we can work Oklahoma City back into our travels.

Today we drove up to Wichita and we'll be meeting up with our friend Holly tomorrow. She was out in Thailand at the same time as we were and Holly and I would go out for pizza together while we caught up on our grading. We're looking forward to seeing her tomorrow.

On a completely unrelated note, here are some recent conversations we've had with Ian. He's so funny lately, and I know there are lots more that our fleeting memories just forget, but these are a few we wrote down.

Me: “What’s your bear’s name? Does he have a name?”
Ian: “I think he’s Number One.”
Me: “That’s his name? Hi, Number One! Did he answer me?”
Ian: “No. He doesn’t talk.”

(at the playground)
Ian: “I’m putting rocks in my helmet!”
a few seconds later
Ian: (whining) “Ow! I have a rock in my helmet!”

(in the car)
Ian: whining
Me: “What’s wrong?”
Ian: “I want my eyes to stay open!”
A few seconds later, he falls asleep

And now a note from Ian:


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Back on the road

We are back on the road today.

Last week was a crazy week. I did two dentist appointments in Juarez, Mexico to get everything finished. It was a long two days, especially the first one with the root canal, but I much preferred getting it done over two appointments in one week than the 5 appointments over 8 weeks that the US dentists told me. Plus, it cost less than 25% of what I was quoted here. So, that's all done now and we will be starting faithful biyearly dentist visits for our whole family.

We did get to do a few fun things in Las Cruces. Freida, who was the nurse out at the school in Thailand while we were there, and her husband live in Las Cruces and we were able to meet up with them for dinner one night. Freida also got the kids in at the pediatrician clinic where she works, so they got well-child checks and a few vaccinations. That was nice because the clinic is on our insurance so we didn't have to worry about exceptions and such like we would in Jacksonville, and we were able to get the shots in the office which are covered by the insurance instead of paying out of pocket for them in Jacksonville.

We also got to see a small railroad museum that's in an old train station. They had a train table there, and a huge freight train whizzed by right outside while we were there. The campground also had a playground, which we used every day we were there. And while I was at the dentist, Jeremy took the kids to a tiny little science museum and Chuck E Cheese.

Now we're on the road again. Tonight we made it to Plainview, Texas. Tomorrow we'll pick up the bunkbeds we've been trying to get for the kids for months now, and then hopefully we'll be able to make it to Oklahoma City. The goal is to be back in Jacksonville IL by Sunday, so we'll be driving several weekdays this week.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Grand Canyon!

Yesterday we did our train trip to the Grand Canyon! It was a tight squeeze with everything going on, but I am so glad we did it. The kids really enjoyed the train ride, and the views were breathtaking. I think it was the perfect way for us to see it with the kids right now-they loved the train and the 3 hours at the rim was just right for us. I can't wait until the kids are old enough to hike down to the bottom and do a longer trip.

From Phoenix, AZ

Ian was so excited about the snow! It's been quite awhile since we've seen any.
From Phoenix, AZ

From Phoenix, AZ

From Phoenix, AZ

From Phoenix, AZ

From Phoenix, AZ

While we were on the train, we had a nearby repair place put our spare tire on. They only charged us $15 and it was ready to go when we got back. That was really great and we had much smoother driving from then on. The kids did very well today and we made it to Las Cruces.

One wrinkle in our plans is that we were informed today that tomorrow is a holiday for some people. Not for us, but for the people who need to help get our passports to us. So I'm not sure yet when we'll be able to leave or how that will work with getting to Illinois, but we'll make it happen.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Anyone know a good mechanic?

Today has been one of those adventures we’d rather do without.

We wanted to reschedule our Grand Canyon train ride for tomorrow since that would be our only chance. But when we called, the hotel was already full, so we agreed to do the RV park instead. Kind of inconvenient to take the RV up there and back, but it was better than not getting to go at all.

Yesterday we worked to get most of the RV packed and ready to go. This afternoon I took the kids to the zoo (had a great time!) while Jeremy finished work and got the last few things together. We figured we only had a little over two hours to Williams, so shortly after 3 I left the zoo for the (supposedly) 20 minute drive home and we’d be up to our campground by dinnertime. Right?

First, there was a ton of traffic so I didn’t get back to the RV park until 4. It only took us about 10 minutes to get the truck hitched and the last few things tossed in the back of the truck since Jeremy had everything ready. We were trying out our fancy new tire pressure monitoring system, since that should help us prevent blowouts by letting us know if the pressure or temperature starts to change.

Shortly down the road, we saw somebody else’s tire blow out right in front of us. We had just been talking about our new gizmo and were hopeful it would help us avoid the same fate.

A few minutes further down the road, our new system started to beep. We pulled off and checked, and sure enough, the pressure was low. We thought it a bit coincidental that this happened the day we got the monitor, so we put the spare monitor on and hoped it was a fluke.

Not too much farther into the trip, the alarm went off again. This time we had double reasons to stop since as we got off the highway, we noticed a strong burning smell and smoke coming from the wheels. We pulled into a truck stop and checked under the hood. All the fluids seemed to be fine, so we were hopeful that the brakes were just a little overheated from coming down the mountain. We filled up the tire again as best we could (it was for cars, so couldn’t get the pressure up high enough) and went on our way again.

We stopped several more times to fill up the tire, each time in progressively colder weather as we went further north and higher in elevation. Ian was amazed that he got into the truck wearing a t-shirt in 75 degree weather and when we stopped, there was snow on the ground. Eventually we took off the tire monitor and that seemed to alleviate the problem, so apparently there’s something awry with the valve stem. We’re hoping to get that looked at tomorrow while we ride the train.

It’s 9:05 and we should be pulling in to the RV park in just a few minutes. I hope we’ve worked the bugs out now and the rest of our travel goes more smoothly to Illinois.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

How quickly things change

So it's great that Jeremy is here, especially since our travel schedule is changing so much. Since they want Jeremy in Columbus in a few weeks, and I'm trying to get to the dentist, and there aren't that many places I'd want to be alone with the kids....there are a lot of variables but it sounds like the best option for us is to do a major driving rush and try to get to Jacksonville within two weeks. A lot of things need to go right between now and then for it to work, but we're going to give it a whirl.

Tomorrow we'll head up to Williams so we can do our Grand Canyon train ride on Saturday. Then on Sunday we're off to Las Cruces, New Mexico. It's going to be a long two weeks, but it will be an adventure.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

At the park

Today was kind of wild.

The original plan was to take Jeremy to the airport so he could fly to New Jersey for a training class. On the way, we stopped by Denny's to get rain checks for the free grand slam breakfast, and we were waiting in line while he got the phone call. Thank goodness for that snowstorm! We were so thrilled he didn't have to leave today, and that he found out before he got on the plane.

Of course, to counter that great news we found out that a) the class is rescheduled for the time we're supposed to be in Chicago for Jon's wedding and b) he needs to go to Columbus for two weeks in the near future. Makes things a bit more challenging for getting back to Illinois, but we'll work it out.

When Jeremy was done with work today we went out to the park. The kids got to feed the ducks and then they played in the sand for awhile. It was really nice, especially since all this time I thought I would be on my own with the kids this week.

From Phoenix, AZ

From Phoenix, AZ

From Phoenix, AZ

From Phoenix, AZ

From Phoenix, AZ

From Phoenix, AZ

From Phoenix, AZ

From Phoenix, AZ

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Day out with friends

I'm sure this will come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog. We changed our plans again.

When we booked the Grand Canyon tickets 3 days ago, they were calling for clear skies with only 10% chance of rain. When we checked yesterday, it was 80-90% chance of snow/rain, 38 degrees, and 25mph winds. Didn't really sound like great weather for the Grand Canyon. Plus, we kept telling Ian about the train, but instead of being excited he said he didn't want to go without Spencer, his new friend who lives here in Phoenix. So we moved our train tickets to 2 weekends from now.

Today we started out at a Half Price Books that just opened. We were number 99 and 100 through the door so we got the last 2 $5 gift cards. We'll come back tomorrow and use them with our 50% off coupons for some free books. Yea!

Then we went to Spencer's soccer game. Turns out that Spencer likes Ian just as much, and Spencer didn't want to go to his soccer game until he knew Ian was coming. We got there 2 minutes after the game started and found Spencer on the sidelines-he wouldn't play until he'd gotten to say hi to Ian first. The kids had a lot of fun here, and after the game Ian and Spencer got to play together on the field. Ian loved being able to kick the ball in the big goal.

From Phoenix, AZ

From Phoenix, AZ

Ian and Spencer playing together
From Phoenix, AZ

From Phoenix, AZ

Rinnah's preferred method of getting the ball in the goal
From Phoenix, AZ

After the game, we all went out for pizza, and then headed to the Glendale Chocolate Festival. That was a lot of fun. We took a tour of the Cerrata Candy Factory and watched them make chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate covered pretzels, and cinnamon toasted pecans. We also got to try a few samples. Downtown was set up like a huge street fair-live music, tons of booths selling everything you could imagine, and some big things for the kids to play on. Ian and Spencer went on the giant slide together.

Spencer and Ian riding in Spencer's wagon
From Phoenix, AZ

From Phoenix, AZ

From Phoenix, AZ

From Phoenix, AZ

Rinnah playing in a fountain
From Phoenix, AZ

The weather was great today, and it was wonderful to spend time with friends. We enjoy Jen & Travis' company, and it's clear that Spencer and Ian adore each other. The kids even held up very well without a full-fledged nap. All in all it was a fantastic day.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Upcoming travel adventures

This weekend we are going to the Grand Canyon! I am excited. We'll be headed up to Williams and then take the train up to the Grand Canyon. I think the kids will love the train ride, and the Grand Canyon is one of the things I've really wanted to see since we got the RV. It's going to be great!

And it looks like we'll be adding Mexico to our itinerary. I've had some tooth problems lately and finally broke down to see a dentist today. Turns out I need some pretty expensive work done, and honestly, Jeremy probably does too. We've both neglected our teeth for quite awhile. But we would need to sell our car to pay for what I was quoted today, which is absolutely not an option. We were going to Las Cruces, New Mexico in a few weeks anyway so I think we'll be adding a short excursion to Mexico for some dental work on the cheap. Not what I was hoping to dust off the passports for, but needs to be done.

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