Road Trip

Minnesota…Mall of America

We had made plans to go to Bay Beach today, so we all piled into the car and started up towards Green Bay. The weather report had said there was a 50% chance of rain. We only made it about five miles before it started to down pour. Not the kind of weather you want to spend all day walking around in. So, on a whim, we did a U-turn and headed towards Minnesota and the Mall of America. We were saving that trip for a rainy day and it just so happened to be a rainy day. We had all grabbed an extra set of clothes in case it rained on us while we were at Bay Beach, so if we needed to stay the night somewhere we would be set. We enjoyed the scenery and the rain after we had made the decision to head west and knew we wouldn’t be out in it all day.

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Minnesota!!!
Our 13th state to hit on this trip.
California (we count that since we as a family jotted down there to get my CA nursing license), Washington (our goodbye family weekend at Great Wolf Lodge), Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, and now Minnesota. Minneapolis was not too far past the boarder and only a short distance from St. Paul.
Mall of America here we come!

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It was a fun day. Although we didn’t ride any of the rides or visit the aquarium under the mall, so it was kind of like visiting Disneyland and staying in the village looking in but never actually going in. The rides were about $10 per person, per ride, so it would cost our family $50 a ride. I’d rather save up and go to Disneyland.
Now for a restful night at our favorite pet friendly hotel chain so we can visit the Capitol building in the morning.

Categories: Family Time, food, Fun, kids, Road Trip, Travel, wisconsin | 1 Comment

Wisconsin Capitol Building in Madison

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We quickly worked to get ready for the day and on our way to Madison.

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The directions from Neenah were nearly a strait line, and as you can see, even once in Madison there were no turns necessary. Only drive straight, straight to the Capitol.

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There were two other Oregonian cars in the visitor parking structure. We appreciated this guy’s plates.

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Our now-tradition of the Capitol building family selfie.

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The building was fabulously beautiful, and seemed short after the Illinois Capitol building. I liked its all granite exterior. The inside had marble from several different states and six countries. A lot of which have since been quarried to extinction making them completely priceless.

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The park or Capitol grounds were filled with people at lunch time eating their lunches in small groups and office people out on walks for exercise. It made the Capitol feel more accessible and an actual part of the daily lives of Wisconsin’s people.

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The Capitol is nearly surrounded by water as there are lakes on either side with a fairly skinny land bridge between on which the Capitol has been built.

20140813-212141-76901214.jpg The resources of Wisconsin painting from before it was the dairy state.

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Our guide.

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The Wisconsin Supreme Court will be in session while we are here and the public may attend the cases.

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We got to sit in the senator’s seats and Caleb, by chance, sat in the seat of the head senator (I forgot the actual title for this position).

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I love the skylights.

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The senator’s parlor.

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Down on the floor of the House of Representatives.

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I’m ready to vote.
Here is a picture of Old Abe a Wisconsin Civil War mascot

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It is actually a Jr. The original one burned in the Capitol fire in 1904. But this one has been sitting on this perch since abound 1908 and is an actual taxidermied bald eagle that a farmer found dead in a field and brought in to the Capitol as a reminder of the real hero of The Civil War.

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There were beautiful views of the city from the fourth floor observation deck.

20140813-214453-78293969.jpg Also another surprise was a hidden away museum up in the Capitol not too far below the dome.

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We found a park by which we could enjoy the water and let the kids get out some energy.

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This little guy kept walking circles around my bracelet over and over again.

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We sat under a chestnut tree which made us think about Aunt Vicki and Uncle John.

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Myra and I went for a walk after dinner. The scenery is so different here than in New Mexico both beautiful. I enjoyed Myra’s quiet companionship and the time by myself to process the day, life, goals, my Jesus and the big picture.

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Out of our reading from “Pilgrims Progress” today. I know this is true and may I take it to heart and remember it when I am making little decisions all day, big decisions, when I am going through hard places, and when I am tempted to take the easy way out.

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-Goodnight-

Categories: Family Time, Fun, kids, Road Trip, Travel, wisconsin | Leave a comment

Neenah Wisconsin

Wow!  Has all this stuff really happened in one day?  We woke up this morning in Madison WI at the KOA and had somehow (a good tent perhaps) managed to stay dry through all the rain during the night.  It was quite a nice campground, and I was sad we didn’t spend any time there.

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20140802-215724-79044308.jpg We packed up, got breakfast, and picked up Myra from the Kennel.  She was happy as always, and returned with a good report card.  Seriously, they gave us a report sheet of how she did throughout her stay, and she passed with flying colors.  We had a two hour drive to Neenah and our new apartment.  We arrived to meet our new landlord at the pre appointed 12:00pm.  We all piled out of the car.  Unloading the car was the easy part, and we worked steadily at putting things away.  For this assignment we chose a new kind of adventure, unfurnished housing.  It was going to be around $2,000, a tad more, to rent furniture for three months.  Probably not a bad price for what we were going to get, but we have to get a bigger place having 5 people than I would get if it were just one, and pet fees as well to consider (way lower here than in NM).  Also, we needed to work on rebuilding our savings a bit.  We decided to take on the challenge of furnishing our provided housing.  When we had our car unloaded and half the things put away, we headed back out to dig up the furniture and accessories we would need to get by for the next three months.  Air mattresses, sheets and pillows, dishes and silverware, groceries, measuring cups, hand soap and a broom.  Our car was filled to the brim after three stores, Goodwill, the dollar store and Walmart, so we headed home to put things away.  Chad set up the beds. Caleb has a cot he found at goodwill that he is completely attached to, and the girls were digging the new sheet sets in their favorite colors.  After everything was set up, we still need to get a couch of some kind and a table and chairs and we will be completely set.  The upstairs, all things considered, actually looks pretty homy. We ate dinner on a picnic table in the back yard.  The kids played in the freshly mowed grass clippings.  They are glad to be “home”.
Goodnight from Neenah!
P.S.
Here is my new hospital.  The nerves aren’t as bad as last time, but still a little nervous.

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The Last Day of July 2014

Over the last week, we have stayed our last night in New Mexico, two nights in Colorado, a night in Kansas, one night in Missouri, one night in Illinois, and now for our first night in Wisconsin.  It’s kind of surreal, and the scenery so far is quite similar to that of Missouri and Illinois.  So green, with beautiful trees, amazing cornfields, and picturesque farms. We have listened to Ramona Quimby and The Last Battle, and the Capitol buildings have been so fun to see.  In some ways, they have been so similar, and other ways so different.  With each tour we have learned more things about each state.  I’m so glad that we have done it.  Today we toured the Illinois Capitol building, the tallest Dome Capitol at 405 feet from ground level, and grandest of all state capitols.  The Capitol building in DC is 297 feet tall.
The stained glass window in the dome is quite impressive.

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We entered the Capitol through an underground tunnel that connected it to the nearby government buildings.

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The doors to the ground floor opened up to beautiful ornate halls and staircases as well as a welcoming statue that made you feel like you just might be in Europe.

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This tour was focused on the purpose of the building, not the workmanship, art and materials that went into making it what it is today.  Built in the late 1800’s, it cost 4.3 million dollars to build, in comparison to the Missouri Capitol building built 50 years later, which cost nearly 1 million less to build. I do have to admit, there is no comparison visually when describing the inside of each.

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The wall paper in the state Supreme Court is awesome!

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The street view of the Capitol is less impressive, and we found the silver dome rather intriguing.  Who do you think would be the statue out in front of the Illinois state capital main entrance?  We are in the land of Lincoln, coined on each license plate.  Well Stephen Douglas of course!

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We enjoyed the monument to the states firefighters and the one to the states police force.

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We left the Capitol and made our way to the nearest Krekels, which had been recommended by our favorite Illinois couple Pastor Tim and Cindy.

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As we are in corn country, so more ethanol is added to the gas, lowering the gas prices.

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We found some fun signs that reminded us of our family back home.

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We have made it to Wisconsin at last!!!

Categories: Family Time, food, Fun, Road Trip, Travel | Leave a comment

B-Day in Transit. St. Luis Gateway Arch

Staying with friends last night made for a fun change in pace, although we were up early as usual.  Travis and Kim had appointments early, so we said our good byes and made it to Jefferson City and the Missouri Capitol building in time for the 9:00am tour.  The Capitol was built in Jefferson City when only a few families lived there.  It was chosen because it is towards the center of the state and right on the Missouri River which was the main source of transportation at the time. It is made up almost entirely with Missouri native limestone and is very dark inside at least on the first two stories. There are solid granite pillars in the House and Senate that were brought in from New Hampshire. The painted murals were interesting but also older and dark looking except on one room (and for the life of me I can’t remember the room.)

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The white spine-looking thing is a coral fossil in the limestone.

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They had a hall of famous Missourians, where the kids found several people they recognized.

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Sacagawea (must have come back to and lived in Missouri after the expedition)

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Laura Ingles Wilder

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I know those are out of order and I did get a picture of Samuel Clemens on Chad’s phone there was also Bob Barker and a whole lot of others as well as Lewis and Clark.  It was fun to read about them.

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Thomas Jefferson is such a huge and honored figure in Missouri, because of his purchase of the Louisiana territory, allowing the westward expansion past the Missouri River and the settling of the land now known as the state of Missouri.
That leads us to the next stop, a famous land mark in the city of St. Luis, the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, also know as the gateway arch.  The gateway to the west.

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With our pass we got a discounted rate for the tram to the top, which made it surreal to how high we had climbed. Something about having to take each step physically that make you appreciate the grandness and scale, but as that wasn’t exactly an option, the tram would have to do.  We enjoyed the view through the tiny little windows.  The views were incredible, however it was hot, stuffy and very crowded, so we didn’t stay at the top for very long.

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We got one family picture by a highschooler in a group as I get a little older I find these highschooler groups some of the most interesting people to watch.  I can hardly remember being that age, even though it was not that long ago.

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We also enjoyed the museum attached to the arch.  We are all getting a little tired of the car, so we decided to stop at the first La Quinta in Illinois and spend the rest of the day by the pool.

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Swimming and pizza by the pool.

A load of laundry got done, giving us enough travel clothes to make it to Neenah… Life is good.  Other bonuses of the day were taking the back roads between Jefferson City and St. Luis and lunch in a little town called Owensville.

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Thank you all for the birthday wishes!

Categories: Family Time, Fun, National Park, national parks, Road Trip, Travel | Leave a comment

Denver to Topeka

Tour of Capitols.  We enjoyed getting to see the Colorado Capitol building.  We learned a few things too.  It is the only place in the world where you can see true natural red onix.  The walls are lined with it.  It was quarried in Colorado and was used in its entirety in the Capitol building.

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You can sometimes see pictures in it.
Colorado is the centennial state.  It became a state in 1876 100 years after the birth of our nation.
The Capitol building is the original Capitol, and still uses the same gas lights, although they have been converted to electric and the building has no AC.  We definitely noticed that right away.  They used to be able to open doors in the basement and lift the roof, which allowed air circulation, but since 9/11 they are no longer allowed to do that.

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From the Capitol we got onto I-70 and headed towards Kansas.

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8 hrs of beautiful, mostly flat farmland, grain silos, cornfields, grazing cattle, and tree lined streams.

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We are all tucked into our tents in Topeka, so far just loving Kansas!

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To Denver and Casa Bonita

The kids have been looking forward to two Colorado things the most, and they are the tunnel through the continental divide and Casa Bonita, and we hit both things today.  We didn’t intentionally get up early but we had already had breakfast and packed the car and were on the road by 8:30 am.

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We stopped on the scenic overlook at Pagosa Hot Springs.  The kids spent a good half an hour playing on the rocks and in the hot and cold water pools which on the side of the river we were on were only ankle deep.

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The mountains were beautiful, and we enjoyed taking them in as we waited for the tunnel to come up.

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The Eisenhower Tunnel is the name of the tunnel for the Northbound traffic.  It seemed less tunnel-ish than we expected because it is so well lit.
After the tunnel, the traffic came to a standstill and we spent the next several hours in stop and go traffic.  What should have been a 5 hr driving day became an 8hr driving day.

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We were glad to pull into Denver.
Casa Bonita (a Mexican restaurant with a waterfall, shows, and divers performing for the crowds) was our first stop. Chad had been there before when he had been in Denver with friends several years before we got married, and has been talking to the kids about it for a while.

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20140727-205532-75332070.jpg the cheese enchiladas tasted like macaroni and cheese, Caleb says that is what he likes about it. The waterfall and divers were cool and the music and atmosphere felt very tropical and vacationy.

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We are settled into our hotel here in Denver looking forward to a nice sleep tonight. Goodnight!

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NM to WI day 1

Being a day late with this post, leaving Farmington already feels like a long time ago.  We packed, walked the dog, vacuumed/cleaned and then headed out around 10:30am.  We wanted to tour the Capitol building in Denver, so we needed to get there on a week day so we didn’t have to put in too many miles.  We drove up through Ignacio where they were having some kind of multi cultural fiesta.

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It took all of about 15 minutes to walk through it but I think it was still fun to see. Next we headed towards Chimney Rock National Monument and we lucked out there too.  They were also having a summer festival having no connection to the Fiesta in Ignacio.  The kids dug for bones.

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Made mini woven rugs.

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Had petroglyphs painted on their faces.

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Caleb’s is the migration symbol which he felt was quite appropriate for us.
Then the kids made clay pots, and smashed soaked yucca leaves until only the fibers remained.

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Chad and Caleb also practiced launching a spear with an atlatle. We also took turns looking at the sun through a filtered telescope and learning about sun spots and magnetic fields.

20140727-201711-73031743.jpg What a jackpot!  The kids left Chimney Rock declaring that it was most definitely their favorite National Monument/Park. From there we headed up to Lake Vallecito to camp for the night.  We slowly drove around the lake and checked each of the four or five campgrounds for available spots to no avail.  We found a day use area and piled out of the car to eat dinner lakeside.

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We changed our plan to heading towards Denver, checking out campgrounds as we went.  We didn’t have to wait too long before pulling into the Ute Campground, which was primitive and nearly empty, with quite a few available sites. Perfect!

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-Sarah

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Mileage Contest

When we left Salem on April 21st the mileage on the 4Runner was 198408.
We had several guesses and I was pretty surprised by how high the numbers were.
6,000
9,780
14,650
15,000
15,468
18,000
And one that I’m sure was a joke (Suzanne :0) )
55,000

Auto warranties generally assume 10-12,000 miles will be put on a car per year average.

Insurance companies base their quotes using the figure of 12,000 miles per year.

It is 24,901 miles around the Earth at the Equator.

So how many miles did we drive in three months? ………(drum roll)

13,015!!!!!
Congratulations Vicky Garvin all of your calculations paid off.  I probably carpooled enough shifts to make up a fair amount of the difference.

That puts us at this starting point for the next guesses.

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Goodbye New Mexico, Goodbye Farmington!!!

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Please Just Hit Me While I’m Down

After a slow moving morning in preparation for a work all nighter, I looked up the closest veterinarian.  Myra has been acting like her ears were sore for the last couple of days and now she shakes her head and let’s out a yelp of pain.  There did look like some black sediment was building up in there and some redness was notable so I figured we were dealing with an ear infection.
We didn’t do the best job negotiating this contract and we knew ahead of time that our savings was going to take a hit, but it was the area we wanted and it was our first contract so we were chalking it up to a learning experience, steep curve expected.  That with a spendy transportation hiccup…when the vet recommended anesthetizing Myra to clean her ears I could hear the ching ching sound almost audibly. I found myself asking what the other options were and saying, “yeah, we’re not going to do that.” This isn’t my first rodeo. Oscar had ear infections frequently it wasn’t $250 a pop, so I didn’t see it coming at all. I left feeling like a bad doggy mommy having refused plan A of the vets recommended treatment. As we walked the mile back home I stewed with stress, feelings of inadequacy, and those feelings of being judged as a selfish, un sacrificing pet owner.  I facetimed Chad to show him the breakdown of the bill and totally slipped on the carpeted stairs completely unhurt and embarrassed the tears started to fall.  Chad assured me that it was fine.  He would help me clean Myra’s ears and the meds they put her on should work.  All the other things I was stressing about were fine too.
Oh that man, he has a way of making me feel better.  Getting those tears out helped too.  My three weeks without him have been too long and I feel relieved that this adventure, the flying solo one, will be over tomorrow.

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Categories: Family Time, Heart, Road Trip, Travel | Leave a comment

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