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Monday, August 21, 2017

Amazing Race Part 14

I am slowly but surely getting every bit of our fabulous vacation documented but the start of school has slowed me down. Today was the eclipse and we enjoyed a full half hour out on our school football field staring up at the sun in our protective goggles. It was great to see the whole community come out- lots of parents too!

So as I said in the last post we didn't even have clean towels for a shower so we used paper towels to dry off...therefore at 4:30 the next morning I was up and in line for the laundry mat at the campsite. It was coin operated and the night before was packed. As I expected there was not a soul alive except for me and the jackelopes. However, I soaked up every minute of those 2 hours, watching the sunrise and walking down to the beach and was a nice piece of God and me time.
4:30 inside the tent.

5:00 walking down to water

5:30 at Lake Powell

6:00 at the LaundroMat

When I got back to the site there were some hungry folk and Goober had already taken down the tent all by himself!! We headed straight to War-Mart to get lunch for the day. The clue had told us that we had a 10:30 appt to hike down into Antelope Canyon and we knew when we got out we would STARVING. From Wal-mart we went to the Visitor Center at the dam in Page, AZ and learned all about electricity  and bought some prickly pear cactus candy so snack on.....and thank goodness we did!
He was loving finding license plates from every state!

The dam in Page, AZ

The line to get into Lower Antelope Canyon was a solid 2 hours...its just the most beautiful place and we were butting up to the Fourth of July weekend so it was jam packed. Fortunately they had shade tents set up everywhere, were handing out water and candy and asked us every 15 minutes if we were feeling ok, were getting dizzy, etc. Our kiddos were champs....they loved listening to our tour guide talk about the Indians in Arizona, how the canyon was formed (which of course made Adam raise his eyebrows), people watch, listen to people play flutes and eat as much candy as they could get!! I felt sorry for many parents with screaming toddlers who didn't want to be held because it was soooo hot but couldn't be put down because it was just that slippery and steep.

We made friends with another couple in line who were from Dallas and spent time getting to know them. I was super psyched because all of the distractions were great for my claustrophobic
fears......I couldn't even begin to think about getting down there and letting my mind carry into a panic attack because I didn't want to deal with all the angry mob behind me who would be ticked if they had to wait for me to clear out. I also didn't want to disappoint my kids after standing in line for 2 hours. I also kept hearing about just how remarkable it was down in the canyon and therefore I was resolved to walk through the whole thing and never once let my mind take me somewhere that would cause worry.

The kids called this "the outie"

After we waited on slick, steep sandstone for 2 hours we descended down 5 flights into stairs into the smallest crack in the earth ever. It was breathtaking and looked like sand dunes that were hidden from the rest of the world. You could see everywhere due to the larger crack at the top of the canyon. BUT, there were several instances where you couldn't see the person in front of you since they had just turned through a corkscrew curve. It was like being in a whole different world. There were swirls of color and light everywhere and Ribbit kept pointing at the beautiful swirls...The boys loved treating it like another Ninja Warrior course and scaled all of the sides...since they could touch both sides with their feet spread. We also had to hold up our group for one second while the boys peed and buring it in sand...who can blame them...a 2 hour wait?...We just distracted others by taking pictures and no one ever knew! After 30 minutes of walking through tunnels we climbled up a couple of ladders and just like prairie dogs, popped up out of a crack in the earth....we had just walked passed that crack 2.5 hours earlier and never even noticed it...God is so stinkin creative and I am so glad that someone took the time to explore that canyon!
Soaking it all in

The lighting was can't capture it.

Sand dunes from another planet!

So many places to hide!

Look at those ripples

Colors from orange to purple!

They refer to that formation as "the Donald"

One of their most favorite things!

Have you ever seen anything like it?

Ninja Warrior

Coming out!

We want to go back!

The crack you pop out of...see the guy coming up?

Our next clue was to head to the Navajo Code Talker Display which interestingly enough is in a Burger King. The display was awesome, well done and very educational. We walked through the exhibits several times reading about these men who worked with our gov't to help break codes and keep our mission a secret. The people there and the workers were less than thrilled that we actually came to look at it and treated us very poorly...if looks could kill...if someone can act as if you are the biggest burden to them...we felt it.
Code Talker display

After we decoded our clue it led us to TIPI Village in Utah, just a short drive away. This was the BEST campsite. We had an awesome elevated campsite with a fence, fire pit, covered table, bathrooms, common fridge, microwave and its in the middle of MONUMENT VALLEY. The views from every angle were phenomonal and the staff were very helpful !! We actually all got baths that night, played some Uno (Little man quit and went to bed ..he was soo tired). Adam took advantage of the bright sky and showed Ribbit how to find the big and little dipper. She then came in and fell asleep on my idea how but I had to wake her up later in the night and move her off :).

Uno under the stars with my kids....yes, this is the good life.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Amazing Race Part 13

Before I begin to recap the rest of the race I need to document some more recent memories.

We started Kinder, 2nd and 7th grade on Thursday. Its honestly not as huge a day for us as it is for most families. We practically live at school year round and my kids have been there since Pre K3. The only difference on Thursday was a schedule, a new teacher and having to wear uniforms again. I felt the same kiddos (including my own 7th grader), back to the bell schedule and I had to look decent. Don't get me wrong, we were all excited but there were hardly any nerves or the need to make a big spectacle out of things!
Meet the Teacher her? WE LOVE HER!! We hung out with her this summer....MRS. NEIMEYER!!!

Meet her? We go to church with her and she taught my Goober two years ago! MRS. WHITE

These are mock first day pictures. We go the night before (pays to have a key card!) and take pictures without everyone else on campus! 2nd grade desk!

Kindergarten classroom. Same one as Ribbit but different teacher!

We take one picture in these two spots every year!

At the end of her actual first day....they celebrated summer birthdays!

Other funny memories-
We were playing Uno the other night and Little Man got so excited to finally have UNO that he yelled it and then showed us all his one card left....we died laughing.
During the same Uno card game Ribbit put down a Draw 2 card against me, looked at me and said "its personal"....bwa ha haha.
Goober was so excited to start 7th grade....honestly, its the most ready he has ever been for school. Except for the part where you have to remember to bring in your summer reviews on the first day....yup, he left all of those at home on the first day and thankfully his really nice dad came to his rescue.

Ok, on to the race. We left Tuba City and drove towards Page, AZ. The clue told us to find Horseshoe Bend. When we got there the parking lot was full of cars and tour buses. There were many Asians there dressed in church clothes and I felt so bad for the women in pantyhose, skirts and long sleeve shirts. I was soaking through my short and t-shirt so I knew they were HOT and UNCOMFORTABLE! You know that old saying of "uphill both ways"...well its true at Horseshoe have to hike uphill both ways up and down a sand dune and dang its hard. BUT SO WORTH IT. The view is amazing, the water is soooo blue. BUT, there are NO GUARDRAILS...none, and people were once again doing crazy things to get pictures. Don't worry, our Edge Nazi (Adam) kept us all from getting too close and we enjoyed the scenery in the safest way possible! On the hike back Adam and I both carried a child....we looked like we had just stepped out of the shower after that climb!
I mean come on....what kind of God do we serve that he can create such beauty like this? PRETTY STINKIN AWESOME

I'm surprised Adam took this picture....he was pretty upset at us for even being this you babe!

When we got our next clue it said to Head to our Pit Stop for the night and we all cheered. We were exhausted and our campsite was at Lake Powell. Lake Powell also looks like a different planet with its beautiful water and mountains and rock formations. The kids loved the actual lake...even though it was brown and muddy. They would reach down and find treasures of rocks and chunks of cement. They were able to build sand castles and cover themselves with mud. We even had our first experience with a French topless swimmer....lots of education on this road trip! We had to convince the kids to come get out and come eat dinner..they could have swam all night long!
Panoramic view of the lake!

HI MOM! I got in up to my knees but I don't swim where I can't see the bottom!

Just lovely!

Me and the hubs enjoying the view of our littles splashing and bringing us treasures!

You would have thought we had bought each kid their own Toys R Us store by the way they acted when we told them they they were going to get a 15 minute hot shower each...and for only $2 a pop!!! Ribbit and I shared one and had plenty of time to clean off, actually shampoo and condition our hair, scrub our bodies and I got to shave my legs (GLORY). BUT, we had no clean towels since all of the washers and dryers were being used. So we got real resourceful....Ribbit and I used paper towels after we drip dried. The boys were just happy to have clean clothes so they put those on and then stood underneath the hand dryers...heheh...I feel a good "you might be from Alabama" joke coming on! Ribbit said "this has been the weirdest day of my life!".

Back at camp the guys got started on can see the lake from our spot!

We thoroughly enjoyed some pineapple popsicles while at the lake! YUM
The showers relaxed us and after we all read in our tent we watched the stars and found many constellations before falling asleep. We knew there was no chance of rain so we left the tarp of. Unfortunately our final clue of the day reminded us that we hadn't done a great job at "loving God, honoring our family and showing kindness to our siblings". We were told that we may be penalized for not following the rules in the future. It was a good reminder to all that we were on the race as a family and that our words and actions reflect whats in our hearts.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Amazing Race 12

The only reason I have time to sit down and write this next post is because my children are all down with a virus of some sort. They are parked on the couch eating saltines, drinking ginger ale and surrounded by a CLOUD of oils that I am diffusing...I am telling you they are the calmest, quietest children I have ever seen!!

So, after dealing with nose bleeds, coyotes and Cravens :), I woke up bright and early to get in a good run throughout the Grand Canyon camp ground. I listened to a great sermon on my phone and took in all the beautiful sites, along with several elk and other early risers. I planned to do a long run but halfway through I was PUFFING and my nose was bleeding from the altitude and I called it.
Elks get thirsty too!

Cooking camp pancakes with dad!

Once everyone was up we ate breakfast and found our next clue. We headed to Grandview Point and hiked down to a really safe spot to take an awesome picture. Adam was so stinking nervous that if one of us blinked the wrong way he became the canyon rim Nazi ...I was thankful and annoyed all at the same time :). Then we headed to Navajo Point and the Tunsyan Musuem to learn about Indians, Ruins and to make a video for our grandparents about farming, indian toys and ceremonial huts. From there we hit Desert Tower which was stunning. We hiked to the top of a tower (with several other families) and took in BEAUTIFUL VIEWS...I mean you can't imagine how beautiful it is...and you can't see it in a book either. We found Hopi murals like our clue asked us too and saw some more beautiful handmade Navajo clothing and jewelry.
WOW....God made all of creation and still we are his PRIZED POSSESSION!!

The watchtower

There just aren't words in our vocabulary to describe it.

At the last few stops we started noticing that there was always a lime green van there too. The kids totally thought it was another family in the race and would encourage us to PASS THEM, saying "lets leave before them" and then they would look to see if the green van beat us to our next stop. It was quite comical and such a coincidence! Adam started playing along and would pass slow pokes while the kids cheered him on!
Climbing the watchtower stairs...REALLY NEAT

We found the Colorado River

Oh that sun was ALL UP IN OUR EYES

We had a little drive to our next stop and the kids were allowed to watch a DVD along the way. It was so stinking funny as they would LAUGH uncontrollably at the movie and then yell at one another since they had on headphones and couldn't hear their own volume. They would also GASP at the landscape around them and point to neat landforms!

Our next stop was at Tuba City where we had to find dinosaur tracks, poop and eggs. I had read that the Indians here were very pushy about giving you a tour for a donation but we weren't prepared to be waved down and we were not prepared for the lifestyle we saw. A woman ran up to the van and showed us where to park and said she would be our guide. We agreed and had cash ready. She carried around her son the whole time and when she put him down he would yell HOT because he was barefoot. We could see her baby playing in the dirt off to the side under the shade of a tin shack.
Three toed footprint

She did a good job showing us 3 and 4 toed footprints and telling us about which dinosaur made which track. She referred to them as flying dinosaurs and t-rex and then other names I had never heard of. We also saw several plant fossils that were well preserved and "dino poop" which Adam said wasn't real...the kids loved it though. We also saw what appeared to be dinosaur eggs in the ground....We aren't sure about that one but it was neat to see. The last thing we saw was a huge t-rex footprint which Adam also raised his eye brow too. We asked her about her beliefs and she went on and on about the 4 worlds (same as Grand Canyon story) and how they came from the darkness and each time they did such a bad job caring for their worlds that they had to get new ones (2nd world the animals ate everyone and 3rd world the coyote stole Mothers Earths baby) and so now they have to take care of this one (which is why archaeologist can't come dig at their sites) because they aren't garunteed another one. She also talked about a flood and two brothers who fought the coyotes with lightning bolts.  We said " that sounds similar to our creation story ...... a flood, twin brothers, etc". Then we said " do you believe everything you just told us?". She looked at us and said " NO, I go to church but my mother and grandmother believe in it very strongly. My dad took us to church though". That was very eye opening and we wanted to talk more.
See the T-Rex footprint?

BUT, we couldn't because after we paid her we saw a teenage girl stumbling up the path (we had actually seen her stumbing up the main road as we drove in). She was obviously drunk or high and her grandmother went out to meet her and carried her over to a couch under the shack. Everyone there was living in the dirt and we noticed that several of the vendors we interacted with seemed "dazed"...not all, but some. We have friends who go on mission trips every summer to these tribes out west and report back that they have turned to alcohol and drugs ..that many of them live off the gov't and have no hope. We saw it with our own eyes that day and we will never cease to pray for their salvation. We also saw a HUGE lack of professionalism every where we went that was run by the felt like we were always burdening them and that they still feel like they are victims of white men....once again, some of them, not all.
See those "dinosaur eggs"?

We ended up buying two necklaces from a sweet older lady selling handmade jewelry there. I couldn't say no to her and she had something that both Little Man and I loved.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Amazing Race Part 11

As we got closer to the Grand Canyon...Adam got more and more may not know this about us (a little sarcasm there) but I am claustrophobic and Adam is scared of heights....and yet we did both of those and MORE on this trip. Adam was a hot sweaty mess as we held tight to our kids hands and constantly reminded them to not jump on rails. We also showed our dismay towards several teenagers (and grown adults) who chose to jump the rails to get a better picture.
We saw way to many people on those little outcrops taking selfies!


As we walked up to the Canyon it was just never know what to imagine....because as we learned there is nothing that compares to actually being there...or anywhere we visited for that matter. Pictures do not capture the vastness, beauty and colors we were able to see. Adam immediately begin to point out all of the layers and rocks and the discrepancy between the bible and what every sign said as we hiked. He kept reminding us of the biblical narrative of the Flood and how that would explain the whole canyon much more reasonably than the tiny Colorado River slowing carving it out over several million years!

As we began our hikes around the canyon we were reminded of what a good purchase our 3 Camelbaks were. We emptied them on almost every hike we went on. We also found out that we are a CHAPSTICK LOVING family....we used all of my homemade chapstick and then bought a prickly pear tube that we smushed all over our lips constantly!

On the end of one of our hikes (it was a little over 1.5 miles) the kids were getting really hot and starting to complain about the length and wanting to go see other things. We kept reminding them that to see great things you normally have to go through a trial or you have to persevere through something hard. We reminded them how we went on a pretty hot and tedious hike in Roatan, Honduras last  year and we were rewarded with a great little place to snorkel and get to know the locals on the beach. Sure enough at the very end of our hike we came up on a momma elk and her baby eating. They were not scared of us at all and we got pretty stinking close. The kids were thrilled.
Hiking along

Momma and Baby!

We soon found the Hopi House and after exporing it we realized that we were STARVING and that our 2 hour time difference was throwing us off....we ate a big ole snack while sitting on the porch of the Tovar Hotel looking out over the canyon. At the Hopi House Ribbit found a dream catcher that she just had to have. They all had done the work to earn their Jr. Ranger badge and we needed to watch the introduction video back at the visitor center to complete it. So we jumped on one of their shuttle and headed back. The film itself was done very well but once again Adam and I were whispering to them "thats not true"..."thats not what the bible says".

We headed over to the Ranger Center to get their badges and the funniest thing happened. Our ranger was from England and when she asked Little Man to repeat the pledge after her he did JUST a british accent and everything. It was quite comical and Goober and I had to walk away so that we wouldn't fall on the floor. I was worried that she would be offended but she just smiled the whole time and at the end complimented him as being a little linguist.
Hopi House

A picture with rails behind us ..hehe

When we got back to the van our next clue was on the windshield...WE WERE GOING TO CAMP AT THE GRAND Mather campground! We headed to the General Store there to grab dinner...everyone got something from the deli and sat outside to eat and talk about our day. We saw lots of great license plates for our game at the store...EVEN ALASKA!!! When we got to the campsite Ribbit had to direct us exactly how to set up camp in order to earn her camping badge for AHG. She did a great job and the boys obeyed while Adam and I raced to get everything else done so we would race back to Hopi House to catch sunset over the canyon.

We loved watching the sunset, we took a great time lapse of it and talked to several other people who were there enjoying it too. The kids played in the trees and it was cool enough to enjoy all the outdoors had to offer.....until Ribbit got a splinter in her fingernail and screamed bloody mary!!!!
Oh my little man is quite expressive :)

We got back to the campsite in the dark and Read Goldilocks and the 3 Dinosaurs. Everyone was OUT...after our neighbors turned off their SPOTLIGHT :)...but in the middle of the night Ribbit started screaming and crying again as her whole face and mouth was filled with blood. That was the first of many nosebleeds for her on our trip...Fortunately I had my homemade sunscreen that has helicrysum in it and I rubbed that on her nose to stop the bleeding. We cleaned her up, calmed her down and fell back asleep.....but only until the Coyotes started holwing and was a LOONNNGGG NIGHT and the Ravens (or cravens as my kids called them......we may eat too many craisins in this family :)) started CAWHING early!!