Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Junior Ranger Kai

I forgot to tell you something REALLY important.



While we were at the Grand Canyon....

Kai earned her Junior Ranger Badge.

She did!

It was so exciting.

She is now an official Junior Ranger.

....and by the way, Kai says that Ranger Kristi,
from the Grand Canyon, is ~~
 the best ranger in the whole wide world!
(next to Papa, who is the best boy-ranger)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Arizona Sunshine

We arrived in Black Hills Canyon, Arizona, (just about 47 +/- minutes south of Prescott), the same day of my last post (you know that rut-roh morning when I gave a grand view to the Grand Canyon campground).

At some point today I realized it has been a few days since Abby or I has written. wanted to let you know, in case you were wondering, ....that all is well.

 The last few days according to Kaile'a Joy

While riding in Maxine, seeing hundreds of saguaro cactus for the first time..... 

Upon entering our RV Campground, stepping out Maxine's door, & FEELING the 80 degree temps., 
Kai flings off her bright pink cardie (sweater) and shouts to the world, 
"No more cardies, no more boots, nor more leggings, it's sunshine and pool time.  Yeeee HA!"

That about sums it up.  That's why we haven't written in a few days...too much sunshine and pool time.

Also , we've enjoyed some wonderful moments and meals with dear Colorado & Hawaii  friends who now  live close by.

P.S.P.S. To our dear East Coast friends in PA and surrounding places ~~ you are in our prayers. May the Lord bless you and keep you.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Mama said there'd be mornings like this....

And so, at 4:28 this morning, Jack woke up.  I only know it was 4:28 because Abby told me. I did hear the little guy wake up.  And I did hear Abby stumble to get him.  And soothe him so sweetly. And I think he went into bed to snuggle with mommy and daddy to hopefully go back to having sweet dreams.   It took a little while.

Jack started to settle and snooze, and then I heard one of the dogs, "errr-uhhhh  errr-uhhhh" .  imagine dog-puke noises  And then the dog that was in puking distress high-tailed it back to Derek...and Derek took a flying leap to the door, and was outside in his boxer shorts, in 30 degree early a.m. temps with a puking dog, and/or poopy dog, or whatever. And then he decided to just take both dogs out....ya know, why not.

And I heard Keith say..."thanks man."  You gotta love a guy that goes outside with a puking dog while it is still  freezing and dark.  You gotta love a dog that asks to go out..... hello.

And then Jack woke up again, thanks to the dog activity....... And then................all was quiet again.

And then I totally had to go, um, to the bathroom. But I am in the bunk over the cab, and  I need to climb OVER Keith, and go down the ladder in the dark, and the COLD. And try to be noiseless.  IMPOSSIBLE. And the bathroom is right next to, as in one motor home-wall away from the now sleeping family, and there is no way to be noiseless.  no way.  So I just lay there, praying I will forget I have to GO.

And then I hear Jack again, and Kai, and Abby, and Derek, and it is still is beginning extra early in the "family suite".........I stay in bed because, well, life is a little busy in the family suite.

The sun begins to rise, and the next thing I hear is Derek and Abby discussing an early morning walk to the Grand Canyon ~~ I mean, why not? So, after a lonnnnnnnnnng time of getting everyone dressed and layered-up, they head out the door. (except for dogs, they are still tired from getting up early)  As Abby waves bye to us, she gives us the look that says, "Is it noon yet?"  Umm, I think it is 7:08, not sure.

Then Keith and I get up, or I should say, get down from the bunk........ (i have still not gone......ya know, the urge just sort of passed). We are having coffee.....talking.  I am having one of those sleep-deprived totally unreasonable, irrational motor home mornings,  "will  i ever have a home and my own bathroom again?  will i ever have a bed that doesn't have a ladder?  what if i don't have any friends at my new home?  (sniff sob )  will i ever be able to untangle my phone charger? "  (sniff sniff sniff)   Keith is on the other side of the table looking at me.......with this kind of look that says he is trying really hard to understand and follow my train of thought here....

In between sniffs and sobs, while I am talking with my HANDS,  I knock my coffee cup over, which is half full...and it spills across the table and on to Keith. Keith's  wearing his orange-colored-long-sleeve-t-shirt that has a  picture of a cup of steamy coffee on the front of it (Kai calls it Papa's hot chocolate shirt) that says "starter fluid".  The starter fluid shirt is now totally splattered in "starter fluid" ...his jeans as well.         He just stares at me.

And then, I start laughing.

By the way....I still have not "gone".  Not yet anyways.

I cannot stop laughing.  I have gone from bleeehhhhh sniff sniff sniff, to ha ha ha.  I am a crazy person.

I run to the bathroom (I is not far, like 2 1/2 giant "mother may I steps" and I am there....but still, it is a leap of faith to get there in time).  I fling the bathroom door open, making it in time.  whew.  I cannot see Keith, but I KNOW he is so rolling his eyes right now.

Here's the deal.  While Keith is rolling his eyes and I am sitting there, so relieved, in so many ways, I notice that Kai's bunk bed shade is UP, and since the bathroom door is WIDE OPEN,  and her shade is UP, well, I have an amazing view of the campground and the people walking by ...  and the campground, and the people walking by, have an amazing view of me.  oh yes they do.

And so began the day............

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

WOW -- Grand Canyon -- WOW

Oh. My. WOW......
That's all I can say.

 It was a WOW. HOLY. MOMENT.

Grand Canyon


That about covers it for how we all feel about the Grand Canyon.  It seems more beautiful than ever before. Bright red canyons, blue blue blue sky, crisp fall air, and fluffy white clouds dotting the sky.

We have said WOW! only about a bazillion times. I asked Kai how many times we have said "wow!'  She said "20 -- that is taller than my Daddy!"  And that is a lot.

We've hiked.  Sauntered. Looked. Soaked. Napped.  Sat in the sunshine. Just stared into the canyon views and been in total awe of God's creation. Walked the rim trail.  Taken the bus-loop to Hermit's Ridge and lots of look-out-spots where we said "wow".  Biked.  Chester and Bailey have explored,  chased squirrels (don't tell the rangers), and run along side us while we biked some trails.  Collected pinion/pine nuts. Enjoyed the deer and elk.

We will be here a few more days.  We are not done yet.

More pictures with the kiddos will come in the days ahead.

But for now, here are just a couple. scenic shots.....

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Weekend in Santa Fe

Favorites of Santa Fe....

Derek -- Hanging out with Kai in the playground, and just hanging out with my family. Green Chili Cheese Fries, seeing the southwest adobe architecture, buzzin' around Santa Fe,

Keith - The smells of the southwest....the showers were numero uno.

Abby - Green Chili Cheese Fries, HOT showers, sitting in the sun, (the rest....well, I was pms'ing so I didn't really care ;-)  )

Kai - Seeing the blue sky and white puffy clouds, playing in the playground on the PURPLE slide.

Jack - Playing in the dirt, having my sister push me in the stroller.

Diane - Being outside in the sunshine and warmth ~~ fresh, oozing with honey, sopapillas.  The good ole southwest.


Today is Monday, we did a quick overnight stop in Holbrook, AZ --- which is in between Santa Fe, NM, and Flagstaff, AZ on Interstate 40 ( a long stretch of desert highway with a beauty all its own) ---- we are on our way to take a peek at the Grand Canyon.

Our weekend in Santa Fe was warm.  When we arrived, we opened all the windows and let the sunshine and warmth in......and each of us went OUTSIDE.  The kids played in the red-sandy-southwestern dirt under the Juniper trees, and the big kids found space to be just be "alone" and have some quiet moments.  Speaking for myself, and maybe for us all, we just needed a little space.

We spent an afternoon together in Santa Fe........walking around the downtown square, where native vendors sold their art, turquoise jewelery, and southwest clothing. There was a man who looked like he popped in from the 70's, as in 1970's, jammin' on  a harp ~~ the music, the Native Americans, the southwestern fragrances of  the dry-warm-air, roasting chili's, the adobe buildings ~~ well it was Santa Fe.

We ate lunch in a funky little take-out place.  The green chili was full of flavor, amazing ~~ the green chili cheese fries gooey and delicious, and the sopapillas fresh & dripping with honey.  We are certainly savoring the flavors of the different cultures (thinking back to lobster and chowder and crabs and clams and blueberry everything in New England ... mmmm).

Sunday, while the kiddos continued to play in the dirt ---- we cleaned up Maxine and Dori, and had a good talk around the picnic table, just being honest about the things on our hearts... desiring to make the next leg of our journey as meaningful as the first part has been --- realizing we must purpose to do so, and make adjustments along the way.  You can get in "ruts" traveling, just as much as you can get in "ruts" at home.  I am so thankful, and so very blessed by this family of mine.

We're excited about seeing  the Grand Canyon, the Lord's grand creation, --- and then traveling  on to some other spots that we've decided to visit in Arizona & Nevada. We've changed-up our Plan A ..... tweaking the journey and travel plans a bit. Stay tuned, everything, as always, is firmly planted in jell-o and subject to change. ;-)

Speaking of change, Keith noticed something while in Santa Fe.  He was commenting on the still-changing leaves on a very gorgeous-bright-yellow-tree.  "Since leaving, we have had about 7 weeks of fall colors.  We've followed the changing colors west."  How cool is that? The leaves/trees have been gorgeous along the way, no doubt about it.  Just one of the countless gifts we've received from above.

Times to press pause,
Thanks again for following our journey , we're blessed to have you come along ~~

 PS If you ever travel to Santa Fe and are looking for a campground or RV spot.  The KOA Santa Fe is definitely 5-Star ~~ beautiful, clean, super-friendly & hospitable, full hook-ups, and HOT showers....and a purple slide ;-)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday ~~ Heading South, Thawing Out

Yesterday, we were "planning" to stay in Mount Rushmore-land longer, and do more exploring. After that, we were planning to see visit/surprise/hug friends in Wyoming and see some of the gorgeous parks there.

But then..... we were soooo dang cold and going a lot stirrr crazy inside Maxine.  Like on the verge of Bonkers. The winds were crazy & freezing all morning long, which kept us quarantined and staying put~~ (even the dogs were weather wimps)  (picture drooling dogs, active kids, and 4 tired adults inside Maxine) ....  and then the electricity went out at our campground, due to the out-of-control fires that sprung up nearby and billowed smoke on the horizon.

And so, with visions of Mt Rushmore still dancing in our heads, as soon as the winds began to subside in the afternoon,  we got our hineys in gear superfast and hit the dusty trail south, for warmer temps. We did not really know WHERE SOUTH we were going, we just pointed Maxine  in that direction.

We were all so ready to thaw out and get warm ... (hi, my name is Diane, and I am a weatherwimp -- it is true)

After driving just a few hrs, we did a quick dinner stop/ doggie run & swim / and stretch legs time, at a State Park in Nebraska. Then, Derek and Abby did our first night drive.  (you woulda thought we were in a hurry or something ;-)  .... The kids slept.  And Papa and Gigi snoozed away in our overhead bunk.

I told Kai last night, as I was reading her stories, that I used to love night drives as a little girl.  My brother and I would sleep in the back of the station wagon, our parents would drive all night, and it would be SO MUCH FUN  to wake up in the morning in a brand new spot.

And wha-laaa, we woke up in Colorado in a WalMart parking lot ~~ our kids drove til about 2:00 in the morning. And now, we are  on the road again, a few hours from Santa Fe.  Can't wait to introduce Derek to the good ole South West. And the best Huevos Rancheros & Sopapillas in the universe.

And we can hardly  wait to play outside in the warm sunshine :-)  ~~~  Kai is 'cited to wear her slippers (flip flops) again, Derek is looking forward to grilling outside tonight (gas and charcoal he says),  and we are all perty darn excited about taking off 37 layers of clothing

Well, south we go.  Thanks to all who have asked us to stop in.  It blesses us so much,  and we do wish we could make all the stops to hug our friends.

And to those who are still ahead on the journey, if we can, we'd love to say "aloha" in person.

How thankful we are for friends across the country who love us so.  We love you right back.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mount Rushmore

Yesterday, Wednesday, October 17th, 2012 .... did you hear a giant Yeee-Haaa?  Each of us screamed those words into the wind when we saw Mount Rushmore! Truly it was as amazing as I had pictured it in my mind. Seeing this Monument has been on my bucket list ~~  A few days ago when we were deciding which direction to head, Derek was the first to say, "Hey, since we are this close, let's go."  (my heart melted a little bit because I knew that he knew it was on "my list" )

While exploring Mount Rushmore....We had freezing temps. We had sunshine & bright blue skies. We had stormy grey clouds. Snow.  Wind.   Sunshine, blue sky, AND white puffy clouds at the same time. We had all of these different  weather moments while there, all  of which bring a different perspective and lighting and personality to the faces high above. Sort of breathtaking.

Sometimes you wait a really long time to do /see something that you think is going to be so amazing.  And then it's not.  This was NOT one of those times.  It was another over-the-top inspirational moment.  It was.  Thank you to my family for driving a couple more days, and weathering freezing temps, so I could have my "bucket-list" moment. I know you each loved it too......... but Mount Rushmore was even more dazzling for me because I knew you each were giving me a gift.  Thank you  with hugs and kisses.

So obvious why he was picked to be on Mount Rushmore.  
Warming by the fireplace in the dining room.

Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln watched us while we ate lunch.

God bless America......

In the shadows.

Freezing....but ohsohappy

Oh wow.  We all said that. Oh WOW.

THANK YOU!!!!!! A kazillion times over ;-)

Just to wrap this up for today........Today, we are sitting in  a rocking Maxine doing odds and ends.  And I think Maxine is shrinking because we are feeling the walls closing in a bit.  The winds are whippin' at about 50 miles per hour, and the temps are in the 30's.(not including windchill in this equation). So we are staying put  and not hitting the road again until the winds pass.  The computer tells us that AZ has really warm temps.  That sounds good. Plan A is, head south :-).

PS A couple more Mount Rushmore thoughts ~~

" Idea as Bold, Brilliant, Beautiful ,
and as Fragile As a Rainbow in the Western sky."
Gutzon Borglumm,, sculptor, Nov, 1930

"No other man has ever had the perspective to carve such gigantic figures and make them look natural to the human eye from any spot below.  Several times I climbed into the basket and rode up the cable to the mountaintop and inspected the carvings.... The closeup view is disappointing.

You cannot see the face of Lincoln when you stand on his lower eyelid; you cannot see Washington while walking back and forth on his lower lip. It takes a genius to figure out the proper perspective so that the carvings will look right from the point from which the human eye beholds them.  Gutzon Borglum was that genius."  William J. Bulow

I pondered these words...... thinking about life, and the perfectly loving genius who is our God.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tuesday Thoughts

October 15th, Tuesday
 … a few highlights from yesterday and today.

First and foremost, LOVED reading Abby’s post.  I laughed out loud and sighed and smiled and remembered ~~~ she totally captured the heart of our journey with just the right words. 

Random order from here....

Second:  Stopping at Wal-Mart yesterday and getting a 2.5 inch memory foam mattress pad for our over-the-cab bunk.  My back felt so much better this morning (ye-hah), but my memory is still a few fries short of a happy meal. (Maybe I will check into that money back guarantee --- where did I put the receipt?)

Third:  Driving  zippety-do-dah  through a town today, Population 4.  To think we doubled the population count for a nano-second.

Fourth:  Before my second cup-o-coffee  this morning, seeing Jack padding around Maxine in his striped PJ’s making happy one year old sounds and jabbers.  I know he won’t remember this trip, but I will forever remember these moments (that is if my memory foam mattress kicks into gear).

Fifth:  Kai sleeping on the dining room table last night (it makes into a bed of course).  She wanted to sleep near her Papa and Gigi. J   I sat on her bed with her before she fell asleep.  We listened to Papa snore for a bit and giggled. And we prayed for his sore throat to feel better. (btw, today  he IS feeling much better --- princess prayers and Derek’s homemade vinegar-vitamin-Agricept drops-morning-gag-me-cocktail are an amazing healing combo.

Sixth: HOLY SOUTH DAKOTA , STOP MAXINE ….a gargantuous Buffalo is crossing the road right in front of in now, as I type this.   Jeepers crow.

A few hours later, as in 5 hrs later.

 After the Buffalo crossing ~~ 

+Jack had an extremely large poopy blow-out in his bed.......and I mean blow-out

+We ALL (except doggies) went on a guided tour through Wind Cave National Park. Like, we went deep down underground,  exploring the caves.  It was pretty amazing.  Jack jabbered the whole way, constantly commenting in his own unique way, on Ted the Ranger's interpretive talk.  And Kai thought it was kinda cool and  a little scary when they turned out all the lights in the cave. It was sooo dark. 

+Jack also had a face-first-(and very courageous I might add), nose-plant in Maxine ~~ after we pulled into our very deluxe, non-primitive, (and thankfully still open for a few more weeks), campground.   OUCH. It came with a pretty icky bloody nose...  Nose bleeds look so doggone frightening. 

+As I type this final lil' bit, Abby & Derek are getting those long-awaited HOT showers, and the blow-out laundry is now done.  Kids are snoozing contentedly.  And I am ready to climb onto my sweet memory foam mattress. 

+Tomorrow, Mt. Rushmore  --- another bucket list spot.  I am so 'cited.


40 Elk & a donut

Well, it’s been since Friday that I’ve showered.  Somedays, that’s just how life is=)  not that I’m too busy, of course, but because campgrounds in the high country shut-her-down fer the winter!  We can handle no water hook-ups for a few days, no problem.  But when the next place you count on for a nice hot shower turns out to be shut off, only to find that out after you’ve soaped up and put your token in (Keith), kinda is a bummer!  So….. I chose to stay dirty today and everyone around me (myself included) hopes that tonight we might find a not-so-primative campground with running. HOT. water. =)  

On the other hand, this primitive camping does have its perks.  WOW!  What an amazing sunrise this morning.  Never been in Wyoming before.  Never knew how HUGE the sky could look.  The stars at night.  The sunset.  The sunrise.  This is what we saw this morning out our back window!  Nothing short of amazingly beautiful.  Primative? Hmmmm. Who needs a shower!

So about the Elk and donuts……

The one thing I love about Estes Park, Colorado is though we stay at the base of the gorgeous mountains in a out-of-town campground,  in 5 minutes you can be right there in town with so many cool places to eat and shop.  I LOVE IT HERE!  We were one of maybe 8 campers the whole weekend.  Had we been there in the summer, we’d a been packed in like sardines with someone’s butt in our view! But we shut-her-down there too.  We stayed until the last day of their season.  It had the most incredible view of the Rocky Mountains.  1 mile from the National Park and 5 minutes from town.  It was a beautiful thing. The mountains make my heart come alive.  In a way it feels good to be 'home' (I grew up in Colorado for 15 years).  Now I know how my parents felt coming to Colorado for the first time many years ago.  I can only hope that I will feel that excited & alive about the next place I choose to call home.

Up until this point we have seen elk, mountain horned sheep, fox, birds in the sky, deer at our campsite, snow capped mountains, snow flurries, & golden aspens.  We’ve smelled the mountain rain, breathed the fresh high-altitude air (7,500+ ft), tasted delicious Mexican food (a few times!), and found a great local coffee shop. (yes, we frequented that just about every day morning, noon & night)  I LOVE all the local treasures we find along the way.  (thanks Beth for your influence!) 

So after seeing and experiencing ALL these treasures, whodda though there could be MORE! The other morning Dad, Kai, Jack and I decided to go to a local coffee shop to get some donuts or scones or whatever yummy we could find for a breakfast treat.  A small little outing turned into an expected surprise.  We stopped at this little coffee shop outside of town called Coffee on the Rocks (cute name) which looked like a little cabin on a pond.  We were greeted by about a 100 hungry ducks!  Sitting on the bench outside was a 5 gallon bucket of corn we could use to feed them.  With a cup full or corn, Kai found 3 ducks that now called her their best friend (from her perspective),  and Jack, well, got in the middle of the rest of the 97 ducks and thought that this was the coolest this ever to have these little animals quacking all around  him.  Of course he chased them, he squatted to touch them, and he threw a few pieces of corn to feed them.  They were both loving it! And did I have my CAMERA? – nope!  UGH!  But it was a sweet moment to see the delight on my kids faces!  By the way, we did find yummy treats for breakfast too.

After that we decided to go downtown quick to see what stores were open.  As we were driving around the bend, I saw this very tall-standing, statue-like 10 point (I don’t know how to say that correctly, but I counted 10 points) elk bull standing on the side of the road.  I did a double take, Dad slowed the car to a stop and we both looked back to see this HUGE animal cross the street toward the donut shop! We couldn’t believe our eyes to see something so majestic in a town!  We watched for a few minutes, then we saw ANOTHER bull walk across the street for a donut. They must know where to get the good stuff!  After we picked our jaws up off the floor, we drove through the park only to be wow-ed AGAIN to see about 40 more elk just chillin’ in the grass along the riverwalk.  Another bull elk, and the rest were momma elk and their babies.  For the next few days we continued to see them there.  It still amazes me, but I guess that’s just what they do here in these parts!  Us city folk are just left awe!

Ya know, it’s the little things along the way that are treasures in my day. I’m getting used to being on the road every few days.  I’m used to changing poopy diapers on my bed.  I’ve gotten used to living in 31 feet of space and not even 6 inches of it is my own. I’ve gotten used to not taking daily showers, puttin’ on a hat, wearing the same pair of jeans 3 days in a row (appreciating they get looser with each passing day).  I’ve gotten used to waking with the sun or my son, I should say, at wee hours of the morning.  I’m used to hollerin’ out ‘can I get a hotspot’ when I want to check email & facebook. (and Derek thinks I’m referring to something else!) For the last 6 weeks we’ve been on road, I can say that I am finally coming to understand ‘living in the moment’ and treasuring those moments that capture my heart and take my breath away.  It’s the herd of buffalo I see as we drive through Wyoming, the antelope crossing the river, the full sky of stars, the coral-colored sunrise, the look on Kai’s face (after she prayed to see deer) when she sees 6 deer eating right next to Maxine. It’s looking over at my husband driving the country roads & interstates, thinking’ WOW we are really doing this!  We are doin’ this together!  It’s seeing the land and imagining those that came west in their covered wagon (thank God I was born in this modern day!)  It’s seeing and hearing from friends and family along the way that encourage us to keep on going. It’s the animal cracker crumbs in our bed after everyone’s climbed in, Bailey included. It’s the question of the afternoon, wadka or tequila?! It’s hearing the elk bugle or coyotes howl in the evening air. I love the primitive sites that make us laugh. I love singing Carol King at 9am.  I love it that mom wakes up when the second pot of coffee’s being brewed.  I love it that we can get an ‘early start’ on the road….like 10:00am. I love it that the dogs smile when they see freedom.  I love these moments. 

On this journey I’ve expected a few things, but all the unexpected treasures have been precious moments. To think that we could be on the last half of our trip west makes me hope it won’t be over all too soon.  I’m not ready for it to be over yet! IT IS truly the journey, NOT the destination and I’m LOVING every moment (even the poopy diaper I smell right now) … we’ll maybe not!    =)

Monday, October 15, 2012

A few more Colorado thoughts...............

We stayed an extra few days longer than planned in Estes Park ~~ just because we could.  None of us could  get enough of the Rocky Mountains, so we took a bit more time to stay... to soak in the beauty, breath the fresh air, listen to the quiet and the sounds, smell the fragrances including the fresh mountain rain, and just enjoy God's magnificent creation. 

This morning, with a sigh and lots of great memories, we waved g'bye to the Rockies ~ and headed Maxine north.   On our journey we spotted buffalo and antelope and deer and huge Wyoming sky.  

Tonight we're camped in a little corner of Wyoming. 

I think there are even MORE stars in Wyoming. Yup. 
I saw a shooting one tonight with a bright tail streaming across the sky  ~~~~~~*

Happy Trails and Tails from us all :-)

A few more Colorado pics.

Our Estes Park campsite view........... can you tell why we stayed a few more days?

Me and my favorite little guy
Today, driving through town, this handsome boy was sitting in the park, next to the slide!
I'm not kidding.

Abby and Kai nestled in the fall colors ~ Estes Park River Walk



Friday, October 12, 2012

A Coyote, An Elk, Rocky Mountain Sheep,

Three , (actually 4!) gargantuous GIFTS in one day.

A little coyote background.  About a month ago while window shopping in Acadia, Kai saw a stuffed coyote.  For some reason she wanted it so so so badly.   Mommy's and Daddy's know best about these things, and their answer was "no". They were gentle and kind, yet ....even so, "no" is hard to handle when you are 4 yrs old and very tired. ("no"can be hard when you're 34, or 44 or 54, HELLO)

Yesterday , Kai woke up to a HUGE surprise. Her Mommy and Daddy were out the night before and spotted a little stuffed coyote in a little Colorado gift was soft and cute and just perfect for their Kai. They DEEE-LIGHTED to get it for her.  And she was OVERJOYED with the love-filled-surprise.

When Kai showed me her coyote she said, "Look Gigi!  Mommy and Daddy remembered my dream! I had forgotten about my coyote, but they remembered the dream in my heart."  she said that, she really did.  this little one says these nuggets that make my heart so full.
And that was just the beginning....later in the day, we were taking a hike in Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park. God had such a surprise gift up His sleeve. The guys went off the beaten path to know.... water the trees a bit.  As they were on this detour they looked up, and  to their complete jaw-dropping amazement they saw this majestic creature, spying on them. 
"Sometimes your journey will take you off of your path.  It's all part of the same trip.
Enjoy the view along the way, life is full of exquisite diversions." Leigh Standley
AND THEN, another present. Early in the day, while driving up to Rocky Mountain National Park, Derek said, "I'd love to see Rocky Mountain Sheep, I've never seen one."  We asked God.  Toward the end of our day,  while driving out of the park, we rounded a corner, and there in a field, right next to the road, was a herd of .....Rocky Mountain Sheep.
We were like, NO WAY.  
Stopping the car, eeerch, Derek got out to take some pics. The woman standing next to him had an amazing camera with a HUGE lense. We learned she was from the area, and a professional wildlife photographer. She told us she had NEVER EVER EVER seen a heard of sheep in this spot.  Seriously?  Seriously.  Derek told her about his prayer, and though I can't remember her exact words it went something like this.... well, since God gave you such a gift, why don't you really get a close look!  She unscrewed the giant lense from her camera, and handed it to Derek. He attached it to his camera...and for the next few minutes he grinned (one of those head to toe grins) and snapped a kazillion close-up shots of God's over-the-top answer to his prayers.  I was in the car with my head out the window thinking, EWE've got to be kidding ....have you ever HERD of such a thing?  smile
My favorite shot :-)

One of Derek's shots....

God does remember the dreams in our hearts. He does.  His surprises are so ahhh-mazing.

PS....And then our day ended with  HUGE cherry-on-top. 
Dinner in Denver with some of Derek's family.
Thank you Justin and Jen, Freeman and Phyllis,
for such a fun, warm, delicious, and wonderful evening.

If you'd like to peek at more Colorado Pics, click on this link


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Colorado Springs pics

A little snow dusting!  Brrrrrr...poor Maxine & Dori!

jAcK & CaLeB

Abby & Kai at Adventures in Odessey -- so cool!

The Rima/Stoltzfus/Hinrichs/Stelzner Clan -- So good to all be together again!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

October 10th ~ Rocky Mtn Nat'l Park

I know it's been awhile since our last post,  (we did not freeze in the snow or disappear into Colorado thin air), but all is well and we are enjoying the bright blue skies & crisp fall air of Colorado.  It sure feels good to be back in "our" mountains once again.

Oct 5th-9th we parked Miss Maxine in Colorado Springs, with a peek-a-boo view of  Pike's Peek, Garden of the Gods and the Kissing Camels red rock formation.  Kai thought the camels looked like Chester and Bailey. Thank you Steve and Patti for your friendship, and for sharing your beautiful home with us, and your flat driveway.  Our time with you & your family felt as warm as the Colorado sunshine. Thanks for "ordering" the gorgeous weather just for us, and we thought it was an especially nice touch to sget to see a black bear and deer...and squirrels.  Never can see too many squirrels .

The first few days in Colo Springs were pretty doggone chilly & grey  & cloudy --- like, mittens and jackets and freeze your pa-tootie-off kind of chilly.  And then, the weather warmed,  (ahhhhhhhh) , the sky became Colorado deep deep BLUE, the jackets came off and the mittens got tucked away, AND we could see the mountains and Pikes Peak and spots where the  aspens were in full glorious golden dazzlingness against the blue skies and evergreens.  And in contrast, we saw evidence of where the summer fires had burnt the mountainsides and there was little sign of life :-( , so very sad.

After the weather warmed, we took a long hike up in the mountains, ...and smelled the trees...and listened to the wind ruffle the aspen leaves, and soaked it all in. Gorgeous.  There was one moment Keith looked up....smiled.....took a deep breath and said, "I can feel God hugging me."  There's just something about the Rocky Mountains.......

Another highlight in Colorado Springs was a trip to Focus on the Family --- and the kiddos (Kai, Jack, & Caleb) and the big kiddos (their mommy's and daddy's) played in the Imagination Station and Witt's End.  Time in this spot, created just for kids,  brought back a kazillion fun memories of reading childhood books, & countless hours of listening to & imagining  the Adventures in Odyssey stories.  

We left Colorado Springs yesterday, venturing north to the edge of Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park.   After getting off the main highway and heading toward the in a field, we saw a huge heard of elk grazing.  Late in the night we heard them bugling ~~ it is a beautiful and eerie sound, all at the same time.

We made a BIG pot of Southwest Green Chili for dinner, and it was the perfect night for it, in the crisp mountain air..... it tasted so good, warming us from head to toe, inside and out. Yessssirrrreeeeee.

Today, another bright and glorious Colorado day. (honestly, I am NOT exaggerating, it really is glorious.  it is.  honest. :-)  ) A PERFECT day for Derek's cousin's wedding up in Estes Park.  And here's the coolest thing ever ----- Matt and Melanie (Derek's sister), and Durrel (Derek's brother) and Mel,  flew into Denver for the wedding ---- and arrived at our campsite this morning.  There were hugs and tears all around ..... a mini family reunion right here in Rocky Mtn Nat'l Park.  Who'd a thought?!  And thank you to Rowena, Derek's sweet mom, for making AND sending along those deee-licious  PA pumpkin whoopie pies !!! We wish you and Amos could have hand delivered those yummy treats~~ you are greatly missed!

Derek & Abby, Matt & Melanie, Durrel and Mel, are all exploring Estes Park and I imagine doing some gorgeous hikes on this amazing fall day in Rocky Mtn National Park --- Keith and I are hanging out at the campground with Kai and Jack (and the squirrel chasers).  The kiddos are snoozin' as I type this, and I feel pretty spoiled with the view out my "Maxine" window, it is kind of .... well..... amazing.... greens, golds, mountains, AND a river.   (and squirrels)

I hear Jack stirring, so I had better press pause for now.

Love to all.... (Chester and Bailey, our squirrel experts, send tail wags)

PS A NOTE FROM ChEsTEr ~~ SQuiRrELs in Colorado are grey with orange tummies. SqUIrrELS  in PA are gray. all over.   SQUiRrELS in Niagra Falls are black and some have orange tails. SqUiRrELs in Kansas are sort of brown.  Just sayin'.

Keith getting hugged by God :-)

Colorado is just like I remembered...


Friday, October 5, 2012

October 5th Snowy Surrprises

First of all....HAPPY BIRTHDAY UNCLE KERMIT.  You are the best Uncle Kermey in the whole wide world ~~ we love you and wish you the best birthday ever.

Our surprise this morning ~~ waking up to snow flurries on the plains of Colorado. As in Giant Flake snow flurries.  oh my!  You just never know what surprises God has up His sleeve each day.

We made it through Kansas a little bit faster than we thought, and we stayed last night in the little town of Seibert, Colorado.  Not exactly the garden capitol of Colorado, but  our RV stopoverspot  had hook-ups, washing machines, AND a HOT-hot tub ~~~ everything we needed plus a wee bit more.

As I said, we woke up to snow --- we were all kind of dropping our jaws at the white flakes falling from the sky, and the COLD weather.  Kai was not thrilled about putting on leggings and long sleeves. nope nope nope :-)  We checked the weather in San Luis Obispo, Calif...sunny and WARM. (just sayin')

As I type this, the clouds are sort of lifting and blue sky is tying to poke through, it's still pretty-darn freezin' and we are on the road again, headed to Colorado Springs to visit with dear friends.

This is "a Plan B - Plan" as far as the timing of our visit to The Springs,
and we are very thankful for very flexible friends.
We met Steve & Patti in California, when Abby and their daughter Heidi were just babies. Our families have remained close friends throughout both of our family's many moves here, there, & everywhere. Abby & Derek, and Heidi & Jeff , had their baby boys within one month of each other ~~~ and we can hardly wait to meet little Caleb for the first time,  kiss his sweet cheeks....and have Jack and Caleb meet one another.  (from the pictures, they look like two peas in a pod!)

This morning, I overheard Abby talking to a friend. She mentioned that we are truly enjoying "this Journey" ~~~ finding a rhythm in our traveling lifestyle, learning what works and what doesn't. We are not only enjoying our scheduled longer stops to parks and places....but finding extra-joy in the surprises and places that are "unplanned" --- the beauty or fun or joy God blesses us with in the middle of Kansas or Iowa or Maine or Vermont, the in-between spots where we least expect it.

How true.

Last night Derek to told us he was talking to the man parked next to us in his HUGE motor home.  He and his wife are from British Columbia and have been on the road 7 months, just loving their travels "aye"~~ they are headed south and planning to be on the road 7 more months.  Derek said he was thinkin', wow, I'd like to do that!  Then he realized.... Wow, I am doin' it !  
How fun is that!
It is hard to believe it was a month ago yesterday that we pulled out of Lancaster on this great & incredible journey. We had excitement, a few tears, many question marks, and adventure in our hearts.  We are really glad we came.
 What a ride!

PS ~~ Kai just shouted, "There are the mountains, The Colorado Rocky Mountains! I can see them! "
Yup...we can.


Thursday, October 4, 2012


Myohmy how the temps can change so quickly.  Yesterday was shorts and t-shirts, today bring out the hoodies and jeans.  The wind blew all night long (so glad I was not trying to hold the tent down) ---- and we woke up to da wind blowin' from da nort country.  Brrr-eeeee-toes

Onward through Kansas & so thankful I am not in a covered wagon.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A haven in the middle of Kansas

Tonight, we are camped at Wilson Lake State Park, somewhere in the middle of Kansas. 

So gorgeously beautiful.

So often, the journey is the destination.  Oh Lord, keep my eyes and ears open to SEE and  HEAR and experience Your treasures along the way.  After leaving KC and Nick (sniff) my eyes were focused on Colorado  .......and low and behold, there was Wilson Lake State Park in the middle of Kansas.

As we traveled over hill 'n dale through Kansas, headed toward Colorado, I had no idea there would be such a beautiful place to enjoy along the way.   Early afternoon we pulled into Wilson State Park, and into a campsite that viewed the lake from all sides. Hardly any peaceful and quiet.  As soon as we put the parking break on......... the dogs were in the water chasing tennis balls, Kai had her bathing suit on, Jack was soaked from head to toe throwing rocks in the lake....and the adults were enjoying the sunshine, stretching their legs, and doing their very best to keep track of the kiddos and doggies.

Though this lake is in the middle of Kansas, reminds me so much of my childhood days, camping at Lake Mead, Lake Powell ---blue lake,  rocks, reddish sand, and warm winds. By far, my most favorite childhood memories............

As the sun was beginning to set,  Abby fixed a yummy salad, Keith grilled up some chicken,  Derek gave Jack a bath, and  Kai & I took a 1/2 mile hike on the Dakota trail.  She jabbered the whole way, talking about buffalo and mountain lions and flies. Yes flies, there were lots of them. As the sun dipped into the lake, we hiked and talked, and my heart was as warm as the glow across the lake.

Now, as I type, the wind continues to blow, and the stars are ohsobright against the dark-night sky. The big dipper is radiant, right on the horizon.

 We are all tucked into our beds. Ready for a good night's rest.

God bless you Nick as you head to IHOP to pray the nightwatch....and sweet dreams to all.

On the road again....

We are on the road again.  We got up with the sun, and hit the road by mid-morning. It takes awhile to pack-'er-up and get 'er done, but we work together like a fine oiled flexible machine :-).

So good to be with Nick in KC!

There are more pics to come.....
I will write more from western-Kansas.
Love to all !

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Kansas City, MO

It is Tuesday.  We are still in Kansas City.  It feels really good to be in one spot for a few days.

We are enjoying....
Being with Nick...
Doing laundry :-)
Extendo-hot showers... ahhh....
Deer ~~ momma's, daddy's, and spotted little ones
Long walks through green fields with the doggies and each other and by ourselves
Time in the prayer room  (Int'l House of Prayer, KC)  where Nick works/prays the nighwatch ~~
 Kai could hardly wait to go to the place where her Uncle Nick works, the place where the music & worship NEVER stop.  She wanted to dance there .... with her Gigi. 
 And we did.  And that time is etched in my heart, forever!
Taste-testing KC BBQ. 
Playing in the playground.
Feeling fall in the air.
Putting our feet up.
Jack playing in the dog's water dish....and getting MUDDY.
Sunshine.  Blue sky.  Big moon at night.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, we will packing up Maxine & pointing her westward once again.  Colorado will be our next major stop ~~~ but, I have a feeling there will be treasures along the way.  We Love You, thanks for reading along and sharing our journey.

P.S. In the midst of your day, don't forget to dance a little :-).