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!!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Amazing Race Part 10

The next morning I woke up and ran 5 beautiful and perfectly 57 degree weather miles through the woods and it was gloroius. The other early risers were up sipping coffee outside their tent and we all seemed to understand that we needed to be quiet and not interrupt this perfect stillness all around us and soak up mother nature.

The girls decided that it was time for a shower, no matter what the cost so we paid $4 for an 8 minute lukewarm shower....we planned it out so well that we had time to do some laundry while we were in there. Ribbit was pretty excited for a real shower and I felt like a new woman after it!!!

There was a clue clipped to our site sign when we returned after exploring the creek a little and it sent us to Bedrock City. Before we left Ribbit decided to use the potty and it was the kind with a hole dug in the ground and a "toilet" on top....she sat down, felt the breeze and said "whhheeewww, this is interesting". We chose to drive back through Sedona on the way to Bedrock City even though it was longer because it was just soo stinking beautiful. The kids also asked for us to put in their VBS CD soundtrack and we were all jamming to "sin messed everything up, everything up, OH NO" and "God is over the mooooooonnnnn, He's crazy about yooooouuuuu".

We got to Bedrock City and Adam and I were excited to see parts of our chidhood cartoons come to life..but I quickly warned him that the reviews were less than steller and I knew it but thought it was a great stop anyways. We got our 5 Cent coffee and wondered through. In all honesty that place could be a killer stop but the owners honestly don't care. Everything needed a new coat of paint or a good scrubbing. The landscape was awful and there was nothing seperating it from the other worn down fields surrounding it. Even the people working there seemed asleep. I thought the place was super cute but you had to look for wasn't obvious.

The kids LOVED it though and they ran from building to building and talked about Bedrock as if they grew up there. I wanted to get them a Flintstone souvenir from the store but ALL THEY HAD IS MAGNETS!! Everything else in that store was like all the Hwy 66 stores and was cheap.

When we finally slid down the dinosaur one of the employees handed us the next clue which sent us to the GRAND CANYON..which was the halfway point of our trip! The closer we got to the Grand Canyon the more elk we saw on the side of the road and the kids got super excited. I had never been to to the Grand Canyon and I just couldn't see how we were about to see this HUGE canyon when we were driving through forest and flat land.....but then...

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Amazing Race Part 9

We are currently in Alabama..drove through the night for Adam's grandfathers funeral. Papa will be deeply missed by all but he was ready to go home to his Father. He was a World War 2 veteran and and just celebrated his 92nd birthday. He was almost always in pain over the last few years but was still loving and showed his affection towards my family. He enjoyed showing Goober how to play the harmonica and a few visits ago Adam and I sat down with him and looked through old pictures and listened to him speak about the war, how he became a Christian and how he was baptized. Adam is very proud of his grandfather and his military portrait hangs in our living room. We get to honor his life today.


After we left Slide Rock our clue said to be in Sedona, AZ at 3 for a WILD AND BUMPY RIDE. We had just enough time to go set up camp in the beautiful Cave Springs campground in between Slide Rock and Sedona. We had THE BEST spot where we could hear the creek running all night and were a little isolated from the other loops that were packed full of campers. Goober went down and tried out his life straw and was pretty impressed...although later he complained of a stomachache...which could be a myriad of things but we raised an eyebrow to the creek water for sure. Goober then revealed to me why he really wanted the life straw..besides it being a neat survival gadget and perfect for all of our camping trips he read that some of the sales of life straws goes towards digging wells for clean water in third world countries and he liked that boy has a BIG HEART. While Adam and I cleaned up from Slide Rock---I had rock burn pretty bad...the kids made a Ninja Warrior Course out of the boulders that lined our spot and the hammocks we hung up. They were showing off and scoring one another the whole time.
Our Jeep and Sherman

Soaking it all in!

We got to Sedona right on time and were thrilled to see such a vibrant modern scene nestled in between all of the mountains. We went straight to A Day Out West where "the race" had booked a Jeep Tour of Sedona for Goober's birthday. It was called the Little Rattler tour and boy did we RATTLE!!! Our driver immediately noticed some of our Auburn gear and said "War Eagle, my daughter graduated from Auburn and now lives in Birmingham"...WE WERE THRILLED!!! We talked the whole 2 hours and I think he loved having a connection with us from the get go!
Wind was whipping us and it felt good!

Our tour guides name was Sherman and he told some tall tales while we were out..some we believed, some I am still skeptical about. He knew a lot about the wildlife and plants around Sedona...we learned about Yucca, all kinds of cactus, century trees and how to tell the different formations apart. He also told us about the culture of Sedona and his childhood growing up in the NE.

Apparently Sherman went to Bo Jackson's house and invited him to come do a kickoff for a little league team he was putting together and Bo came! Then Bo's wife invited the whole team back to their home for ice cream!
We stopped one time for a great picture of the beautiful creation!

Sherman also is the one responsible for driving all of the Pixar artists around Sedona so they could sketch scenes for the movie Cars...he showed them everything and then they even named one of the characters after kids ate it up!!

The whole ride was fantastic, he would punch the gas and we would fly over dips and around curves. We would go up steep hills in a S motion and then fly down on the way back. The kids loving coming up off their seats and just laughed and screamed. We were sweaty but the breeze from the open jeep felt fantastic. It really was thrilling but the last 20 minutes as we got back on the Highway to head back into the city Little Man fell asleep sitting up...we all got warm and tired and HUNGRY!!!
Someone just couldn't keep his eyes open!

Big Man in charge!

Sherman handed Goober his next clue, which allowed him to choose dinner. We went to the Open Range Grill and Tavern and for the first time Goober ordered off the adult menu. No surprise that he and I ordered the same thing..we have very similar taste buds. We sat out on the patio and overlooked the beautiful mountains while we ate. Unfortunately Ribbit also had back rock burn from the slides earlier that day and hers were so bad that she couldn't even she happily stood at our table and ate dinner. The restaurant brought Goober free ice cream for his birthday and the three kids happily split it.
He was STUFFED and decided to share his dessert with his siblings

I would love to look at that while I ate every meal!

We let Goober pick some stores to shop in after wards but on the way the two littles spotted SNAKES. A man had about 10 cages of snakes that you could pick up and handle...he was there to educate but you could also leave tips. Both of our little ones wrapped those snakes around their bodies and never once flinches. In fact as we walked away I about threw up as I saw snake scales in both of their curly hair ....UGH.

Mom, they are sooo nice!...NOPE

Goober found an awesome store called the Silver Cloud and the manager was SOOOO stinking nice. When he learned it was Goobers birthday and saw him drooling over a double knife he asked him how much he had to spend. Goober said I have a $25 gift card (a gift from grandparents) ....and the manager said "that knife is $25 exactly. Adam and I noticed that the other knives in that same case were marked $40. I went to pay for it and got out my wallet to cover tax and he said " nope, its $25 with everything. Goober was so proud to pay for it completely and we have gone online and left a great review for that kind man who made our 13 year old's day!!!

We headed back to our campsite late and went to bed after reading a Berenstein Bears book. We also each went around and told Goober something we loved about him...
Ribbit said " he is so handsome"
Little Man said "he plays with me"
Mom said "he has a great heart and I love when he plays violin"
Dad said "he will help whenever he is asked"
Then Goober spoke up and said my favorite thing about me is that I am now the age of my favorite #....13!!!!
Our awesome campsite in Cave Springs

When I got back the next morning from my AWESOME run I was greeted by this sweet camper hanging out in the hammock!

We could hear the creek the whole night and it GOT COLD which means we SLEPT WELL!!!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Amazing Race Part 8

As we left the Petrified Forest National park we were once again excited to see the landscape change. We went through Holbrook Arizona and got back on Historic Route 66. The kids spotted the "cone motel" , "Mater" and "Doc" from Cars rather quickly and were sooo excited to learn that we would be staying in the historic WigWam Motel....well everyone but Little Man...he didn't realize that we would have AC and a TV for the night..he thought we would once again be camping and his first words were "Can't we stay in a HOTEL???".
Our WigWam for the night.

The found Doc from the Cars movie!

My beautiful view during my morning run

They eventually ran around looking at everything they had seen in the movie and noticing how neat old cars are! The WigWams are not the nicest thing...hehe, we knew that but we also knew that this would be a once in a lifetime deal. We slept comfortably, we loved having AC :). We were now on a 2 hour time difference from home so we let the kids stay up super late that night watching Despicable Me 2 in hopes of getting them used to the new time schedule.

Before we headed to bed we went into town and found a Cultural Dance going on between the Hopi and Navajo tribes. We watched for a good hour and the kids were fascinated by the group dances, single dances and their outfits. I loved immersing my kids in the culture and when I told them that Adam and I have Indian in us they immediately said "we have Indian in us too then!!!".
Awesome outfits.

We found this cute sign along Route 66...see all those arrows with famous city names on them behind us?

The next day was our Goober's 13th birthday...yes, we have a teenager. A sweet, stinky, respectful, shoe-loving, "cool", stinky, funny teenager. We let him open presents right when he woke up ....he got a life straw so he could drink from streams (something he really wanted), a cougar under armor outfit and a Star Wars devotional book.
Happy birthday Goober!

We all quickly got dressed after we noticed that there was  clue on our car windshield....It had a Happy Birthday Goober message and then told us to get to Slide Rock State Park and HAVE FUN!!! We had about a 2 hour traffic was really backed up so we looked for more license plates and it really made the time we were able to check off a bunch of states!

At Slide Rock we got one of only 10 parking spots left before they were full for the day...WHEW!!. We found a spot in the shade and immediately wanted to go join the people who were laughing and screaming as they slid down the rocks in the ICY COLD STREAM!
More beautiful formations on the way!

A little chilly but we loved our day at Slide Rock.

Me and my monkey sliding down!

Goober going down 1 of the 100 times :)

Goober went first and he immediately wanted to go again. The slide itself went over several rocks and also had some pools that let you slow down a bit. Ribbit rode down on my back for her first time and it was BREATHTAKING in every sense of the word. I have never been sooo cold and I have done cryotherapy, which freezes you ,several times! Ribbit loved it but it was hard on our hips and booty. The boys had on shorts and we should have worn some too...but we were already in it. We all took turns going down it...each time the little ones would ride on our backs or in our laps. My favorite time was going down with Little Man on my back like a monkey---he clung to me for dear life, even after dipping under the water in some of the pools. It was sooo refreshing because after each slide you would stand up and be immediately dry but never sweat bc of how stinking cold that water was.
Look at the beautiful country all around us!
We ate lunch on the rocks in the shade people watching and unfortunately saw several people fall on those slippery scared us each time and we felt bad for those who slid down losing their coolers, shoes or really injuring themselves. I prayed that we would stay safe for our whole time there and only Little Ribbit slipped one time and immediately got right back up!
Not sure he needed goggles...but eh.

Goober spotted some older kids jumping into a deep pool from the cliffs and asked to join. We said Yes and watched him jump off and come up uneventfully. He asked if  he could go again and we agreed. This time though we watched him because the whole time  he was in line to jump he was shaking, and talking to himself, rubbing his head and Adam said "he is psyching himself up"....we wondered why but then it became clear......he ran and did a front flip off the cliff.....coming within inches of smashing his face in the rocks. I felt all the life drain from me and all the anger rise in 1 second. I thought for a split second that he may not live to see his 14th birthday. We gave him a nice talk and encouraged him to always ask for permission, not forgiveness and to THINK BEFORE HE ACTS!!! It really did suck all the breath out of me....oh that teenager!!!!

We headed down to the smaller slides and the kids loved those as well. I stood at the very bottom pool though because I worried that the current would take the kiddos right over the small waterfall. They loved sliding down and having me catch them...every time they stood up they were shivering but they wanted to do it again!!! Ribbit said repeatedly " This is the best day ever"---with blue lips :).
Trying to capture the loonnng slide in the background as we headed down to the little slides.

Drinking water with his life straw

We then went back to the Ranger station and completed our Jr. Ranger badges by reading some history, walking through an old farmhouse and apple orchard and taking our pledge.....As we walked back to our van we noticed a clue on a van that was identical to ours in the parking lot....silly Race..they got confused!!! :)

Earning our Jr. Ranger badges in the middle of God's creation!

We loved those mountains!