Sunday, July 5, 2009

Home SWeeT Home!

Monday, June 29
Our last day. How did the month go so fast. For me it literally feels like I was making my lists and checking them and packing and running to Meijers 10 times a day making sure we had every last thing we might possibly need like there isnt another store in the country. Which there is not another store in the country, that we found anyway, that compares with Meijers. Maybe its just the familiar, who knows. But it is clean, reasonably priced and you can find EVERYTHING there. Okay enough about Meijers.
We got up, and left our last comfy hotel room. The kids wanted to go up in the St Louis Arch, and Cece needed to get her passport book (for national monuments and parks) stamped. So we headed down that way, but because there is another home baseball series in town the downtown was busy and lots of people were also wanting to ride to the top of St Loiy! And there were no parking spots to be had. After we paid $4 for a parking spot in a full lot, Ken was getting edgy. So Ken sent us in and he was going to find a parking spot. I really knowing all along he was ditching us to read the paper. Gotta love him:D! So he found a nice shady spot to read the paper, and I headed into the maximum security under ground with our kiddos. We had to wait 1 hour to get our pod ride to the top. We were psyched. They asked several times along the path before actually getting into the "elevator". "Are you claustrophobic" I was like jeese, its just an elevator. Well no its a tight little pod thing that is completely closed in and you sit in a circle with your knees all touching. Then you get out into a triangle shaped room about 25 feet long with oh 100 other people. Uh yeah if you didn't know you where claustrophobic you would find out reeeeeeeeeal fast on that trip. The views where amazing, however. The kids loved it and said it was worth the wait. Noah decided that you could actually jump off the top of the arch into the river like the character did in the book he is reading, but we decided that you most likely would die. After 10 minutes of pictures and peeking out tiny windows and trying to spot Daddy from the top of the Arch we headed down, our last hurrah, the last big sight of our trip. My hear sank a bit. It was all so much fun, every bit of it, the good and the bad. Family time is the Berries, the longer you hang together the sweeter it gets!
We had to split up to get down or wait 10 more minutes, so we split up. Luke, Ainslie and I went with strangers and Noah and Cece went together with strangers. I got off first and watched nervously for my kids to find me, like someone is going to abduct them from the pod of the St Lois arch, crazy tired mom thoughts, anyway here comes Cece with crumbs all over her face and a big smile. "I got a snack from a lady" she says. "The mom lady says that when shes bored or nervous she eats so she pulled out a bag of mini cookies and asked me if I wanted one" she continues. I look at Noah, he shrugs. I'm like you let your little sister eat food from a complete stranger coming down on the pod??? And of course he said no, cause you know you should never take food from a complete stranger on a pod! Right?! Oh we got a good laugh off that one anyway. Cece always bags a snack somehow, I cant believe she didn't ask her for a drink and then a piece of gum. To be 6 again.
So once we are out from under the ground we call our chauffeur who has been waiting patiently for us. Off we go to find lunch. The funny thing is we eat lunch at a Cracker Barrel the same place we started our culinary adventure. At the beginning we made bets on how many times we would eat at the "Crack" Someone said eleven, but now I cant find my note I made with all our guesses. I said 4, so I won. Thankfully. From there it was put the pedal to the metal. We stopped once to go potty and get a caffeine/treat fix at Mc'y D's.
10pm we pulled in the drive way. Stacy our house sitter greeted us,as did our much missed hairball Jack. I am not sure who was more excited us or him. Lots of barking and squeals.
Home sweet home.........

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Six Flags/Hurricane Harbor St Louis

Sunday June 28
Wooo Hoo Six Flags! The kids were sooo excited. We arrived at Tweety 11 and parked. Why I remember our parking spot I am not sure. Maybe cause we used to call my sister tweety and Ainslie is going to be eleven. My brain is amazing, let me tell you.....
The weather was perfect, not to hot and it was not jam packed. In fact, we hardly had to wait on any rides, or should I say the kids hardly had to wait, Ken and I waited all day as our kids flew by us, on and off rides and on to the next. We did go on a few that weren't too twisty turny. What happened to me??? I used to go on any and all rides (except for the ones that bring you up and then drop you, no thank you those rides are just weird and wrong) but now if it jerks my neck too much I cant go or or if it spins around in circles it makes me nauseous and gives me a head ache. Ken has always been a wimp with the rides.
So, Ken and I sat with our 12.99 endless refill cup and waited for our kids and did some SERIOUS people watching. Okay please don't judge me for judging others, but there are some very interesting peoples and I have nothing against tattoos I have actually considered getting one more than once in my lifetime and may still go down that path. But, whoa mama........ do we really need Aunt Agnes tattooed on our lower left thigh????? Sorry, enough said. And we also got held up once on a ride because someone was too large to unstuck themselves from their seat. People, this is sad, that's what this is.
Okay on to happier thoughts, the kids had a blast. They are all lovers of fast crazy rides, and Cece was almost big enough to go on every ride, so a good time was had by all. We ended our time by letting the kids get charactures of themselves as a souvenir.
We left the park thinking we would eat somewhere on our way back into town, but forgetting it was almost 10pm and a Sunday night. Everything was closed. And we were starving cause we really didn't eat much of anything in the park, we just drank alot of pop. Nice healthy day for the kiddos. Luckily we made it to Houlihans in the hotel complex just as they were about to close and they very graciously offered to keep there kitchen open to serve us. We got great food, good service, and the restaurant practically to ourselves. Once again God is so good....

St Louis

Saturday June 27.
We arrived at our hotel by Six Flags, just outside of St Louis. And promptly canceled our reservation! YIKES. Our routine is for me to go in, check out the lobby, if it looks nice then I ask if they have a room available, if so then I go check it out and make sure its goooood. Before we haul all our stuff in. Only once on the trip did I have to say, um no thank you. (in Flagstaff) So anyway, we were sceptical as we pulled in but then the lobby check failed miserably. So we took a minute on their lobby computer and found ourselves a room at the Marriott-Union Station downtown St Louis. It was the best! We just had to drive back to Six Flags (26miles) but it was worth it. It had a great pool, which we went right down too and swam until the Cardinals game got out and all the fans came streaming in hot and sunburned and took over the pool area. We were directed to a place called Smokin Joes for dinner. We wanted some good Bar-b-Q and that's what we got! It was fabulous. Ribs, chicken wings, pulled pork, sweet potato fries, Delicious! Then we walked in the 98degree heat 12 blocks to the Arch. Cece wondered why we would want to go see an arch that wasnt natural?.....well.......cause man made arches are cool too, I guess. And cool it was. We walked all around the Arch and then went into the Millennium Hotel and sat at the bar area with a great air conditioned view and got ourselves some ice cold pops! Then we made our way back to our hotel, to once again turn on the boob tube and watch yet more coverage of Michael Jackson.

Branson or not to Branson...that is the question!

Not to Branson. We thought we might take in the tourist trap of shopping and washed up country stars. But then we decided not to when we saw that it was kinda off the beaten path from home. Instead we decided to take in the sights of Carthage Missouri. So we left Ok City and headed north, east. In record time I might add, we got up and out of a hotel in less than one hour!
The land is starting to look more like Michigan, more jungley and green and rolling hills. Just outside of Tulsa we ran into only our second major traffic jam. We have been so blessed with not getting into any bad traffic. So we got off the main highway and took a lesser road and kept rollin.
So, why Carthage? Carthage is the home town of my grandfather on my mothers side. And I heard my whole life stories of Carthage. (or Carnage as one of my kids flubbed it) So we thought it would be fun to go check out the ol stompin grounds of my gramps! The town square looks like the town in Back to the Future, it was like frozen in time. But sadly we were the only people besides the two people working in the malt shop we stopped into, that were in Carthage. It was fun to think of grandpa maybe sitting at the same booth possibly and gettin a soda pop with his buddies after a big basketball game or after he was done life guarding at the city times.
After a trip down memory lane we found a hotel in Springfield Mo(Pastor Stevens old Evangel stompin grounds) with an outside pool and extra added bonus of a basketball court for Noah! After we expended some energy swimming we turned on the boob-tube and watched the endless of coverage of Michael Jackson.
Tomorrow we are shooting to get to St Louis and spend the last of our amazing adventure there. Man the drive to Portage Lake in August is gonna be like a trip to the corner, let me tell ya! Almost 7000miles and 15 states now that we have reached Missouri.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cliff Dwellers

Packing up and heading out. Bernillio KOA was not our favorite. They locked the bathrooms. And everything shut down at dusk. Whats dusk?? Oh well, this is our last cabin until family camp. So I will let it go and think happy thoughts. Like no more peeing in a cup at night cause I am too afraid to walk to the potty. So my happy thought is a nice clean potty in my room :D
One more Diners Drive ins and Dives. My poor family. "please could we just have Wendy's" So we went to the Telecote Cafe. No toast. Noah was miffed. But despite no toast they had the best baked goods ever. And very spicy green and red chili sauce all over everything! I think Luke and I are gonna go through spice withdrawal when we get out of the SW.
From there we drove North of Santa Fe to Puye Indian Cliff Dweller Reservation. We made a hefty donation to the Puye Pueblo and went on our tour. It was very interesting and even Cece stayed entertained mostly looking around on the ground for bits of broken pottery. Our tour guide was a bit blah, but she was smiling. Luckily we had a few people on our tour that knew more than her so we got lots of good tid bits of information about how the cliff dwellers lived.
Now its eastward. On and on we go where we stop only Ken knows. We thought we would stop in Amarillo but we ended up finding a hotel just outside of OK City. We blew right threw Texas. The pan handle of Texas is NOTHING. We did stop at the Cadillac graveyard. Which is awesome. We got to do some vandalizing! Yeah,so anyway besides some cool land formations and lava flow on our way out of New Mexico, we saw nothing for hundreds of miles. We did stop at an old route 66 diner some where in Texas. And we saw Kens Ice cream shop and Deans Restaurant right next to each other. Apparently Ken and Dean(vredevoogd) had a thing goin on route 66 in another life!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Albuquerque-Wed 24th

Today we head to the Sandia Mt. tram. We could see the Sandia Mountains from our cabin. The tram is the longest in the world it climbs 10,000+ft to the top of Sandia Mt. From up there we could see 7% of New Mexico. The kids loved it. I was reminded of my fear of heights and my over active imagination, as we swayed up to the top and then the kids ran all around at the top just inches from tumbling over. Not really, there where railings, but what if one gave out. Aaahh! New Mexico has active volcanoes! We could see them from up there too. Ainslie just about lost her camera, but luckily a friendly soul turned it in to the ticket agent. She left it on top of the penny press while she was pressing a penny for a souvenir.
From there we when to Sophias Place for lunch- another Diners Drive'n and Dives. It was a dive but it was our favorite place. Everything was homemade and perfectly spicy. No where back Check Spellinghome can you get food like Sophias Place! Later at the Pueblo Museum a native, told us, ooo yes that is the best place all the locals eat there.
We visited the Pueblo Cultural Museum in Albuquerque. Very informative and worth while. All over you see signs for this Pueblo and that Pueblo. What is a Pueblo? Its the Indian word for village. So we found out Pueblos are separate Indian villages with different governments, etc. Ainslie, Luke, and Cece picked out souvenirs at the museum store for themselves and friends. From the museum we headed to old town Albuquerque to have a look around and try and find the Candy Lady. It was very hot and old town Albuquerque looks alot like old town Santa Fe, only not as good. So we beelined for the Candy and headed back to the pool to cool off.
New Mexico is called the "land of enchantment" and between he amazing scenery at every turn and the most vibrant rainbows I have ever seen it lives up to its name.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New Mexico SURPRISE!

Monday/Yesterday we left Flagstaff and headed further east on hwy 40 toward Albuquerque, New Mexico. We stopped along the way at the Meteor Crater in Winslow AZ, it was quite a fine sight to see. Hmmm is that a song? Anyway, I thought it was going to be sort or kitschy but it was really pretty amazing. Right out in the middle of nowhere, a farmers field was this huge hole from 70 stories deep, 2 miles in diameter. There was also a meteor/astronaut museum there. Telling all about meteors all around the world, it was worth the stop. We also stopped at the Painted Desert/Petrified Forest National Park. I could have spent more time there but the kids thought it was boring. You seen one petrified log you seen um all I guess, maybe the novelty of all this cool American geology and history is wearing on some people in our traveling party......
From there we motored to our new home at the KOA campground in Bernillio NM, right between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Where a surprise was awaiting the kids. When we got there my mom and her husband had gotten there before us. Had set up camp in the cabin next to ours and had a picnic all waiting for us. I said to the kids hey look there are some people next to our cabin from Florida. "so"(Noah) no response from anyone else. Then Noah realized that it was grandma sitting there and the kids all gasped and ran to give big hugs. It was a fun surprise!

Today we went to the Farmers Market in Santa Fe. It was great we got to sample all kinds of yummy stuff and check out what kind of produce is more commom here that we dont see at home. They had all kinds of different woods for sale for smoking meats and lots of chilis and spices. It was great. Then we just walked around downtown and did some shopping. Walked around the cathedral in the center of town. It was built in 1680. Wow, it was recently restored, very cool. From there we were ready to eat some good ol new mexican food, so we asked our parking attendant where his favorite place is. He sent us to Tomasitas, it was very good, they had awesome sopapillas. Ken was put out because the didnt serve us the endless chips and salsa like back home but they did keep the sopapillas coming. The food was hot and plentiful and cheap. Yeah! Now we are just hanging out with Grandma Reeny and Grandpa Bill before they have to leave in the morning

Monday, June 22, 2009

Route 66

We got a late start today. We headed east on hwy 40/old route 66. We drove through the Mojave desert. We saw many trains and stopped at a Mr Dz roadside Diner for lunch. They had the best root beer that they make themselves even Oprah has stopped there and had a root beer! We stopped and took a quick walk in Needles it was 102. We needed to stretch our legs. Today turned our basically to be a road day. It was one of those days we had to give up some things we wanted to see to make some headway, because we need be in Sante Fe by Monday night. So we decided to bypass the Grand Canyon. We have seen so many canyons and amazing landscapes already in Utah, we decided that we would come back sometime to AZ and do a trip to the Grand Canyon later. It was a little disappointing. But how much can one family see.....:D
We landed in Flagstaff in time to take a nice long walk in the downtown area and have a pizza pie and celebrate Fathers Day! Flagstaff is also worthy of a longer stay than just one night. We will put that one on the list too.

Speaking of lists there were a couple of things I noticed about Californians. They still have old fashioned phone booths all over. (maybe for superman)They also have in every single bathroom no matter the size or cleanliness of it those toilet seat cover things. And the people in California know how to have a picnic.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


June 2o was a day of much, much eating, much bird poop, and much driving/sight seeing.

After our walk for life. We drove up through LA. First we decided to seek out an Ikea. Luke and Ken had a craving for swedeish meatballs. I think Ken had a craving for a meal that didnt break the bank. So we found an Ikea. It was bigger than the one in Chicago. It was a good stop to have dinner and walk around a bit and of course make a few small purchases. We ate our fill for $18. Gotta love those swedish meatballs. And Ikea coffee is the best!
We decided to search out "the" sign. The HOLLYWOOD sign. The traffic wasn't bad so we headed right up the middle of LA. WoWza. I guess I always think of LA as in the beach I never really think of the big city. The highway systems there the way they twist and wind and crisscross and at times are 10 lanes wide are a sight to behold. We found the sign without too much difficulty. Thanks to Gabby. (our garmin navigation system- that we named Gabby or "the GAbster) Then we decided to head and take a look at the Rose Bowl. Ken had never seen it so we got out of the car and took pictures then drove around Pasadena a little bit. Pasadena is a very very nice area. Its on our list of places we would like to go back and spend more time in. From Pasadena we decided to head east and find a hotel for the night. Well Gabby got us lost twice, you really do have to look at a good ol map sometimes! But in the middle of one of our circle tours we found a yummy yogurt place. Which Ainslie said was an answer to her prayers. We ended up in Hesperia CA almost to Barstow. We are officially heading homeward now.


We headed north from San Diego toward LA along the coast. We stopped at the Sugar Shack for breakfast, per recommendation of Jordan. It was really good. They had some of the best cinnamon rolls. And then next door was Pedros Taco, which Jordan also recommended so I had to double dip and walk next door after breakfast, mind you, and partake in a fish taco, just one which everyone had to have a bite of so I really didn't eat breakfast and then lunch in the same hour with out help.

From there we went to Dana Point. At Dana Point we parked and dodged pelican poo. Pelicans and other large creatures were sitting in the trees in the parking lot. It literally looked like someone was dumping dixie cups of white paint here and there. We got out of the car and had the kids run for the side walk.

We also chose to do our life walk at Dana Point. Thanks to so many of you that helped me raise money for the Pregnancy Resource Center. We prayed for the PRC and then set out down the beach. It was a great place to celebrate life and to give thanks to God for his awesome grace that washes over us each day. Walking next to the ocean brought so many thoughts to mind from Gods word. Gen 1:2 God first created the seas. And then when he says to the Samaritan woman at the well that He is the living water, and then later tells Peter to throw in his nets- to be fishers of men. I was very blessed to be able to walk and reflect and pray for such an inspiring organization, and to watch my kids run and splash in the waves. God is good, all the time.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Yesterday we headed north to Mission Beach, San Diego where the Alves sister met us. Helena, Christina and Brenda. They met us for lunch and we had a great time visiting. Then we or I should say the kids and Helena and Christina did some of the rides at Belmont Park. It is a very old amusement park right on the beach. Noah and Cece got the most out of the rides, we mostly watched. Then we took a long walk up the beach walk. The weather was perfect. It was some good people watching let me tell you, and house gawking. From Mission Beach we headed up to Old Town San Diego, there they had some fun shops and a recreated "old town". We ate there again....... and had alot of laughs with the girls. Noah got a breakfast burrito (for dinner) that was the size of a small child. So Ken thought he was real funny and acted like we was doing cpr on the thing and then the jokes went on and on. We must have been tired, because we got alot of mileage out of the dumb breakfast burrito.

Today we did LEGOland. Luke was in his glory. Noah was very patient. It was really aimed more toward younger kids so it really didnt live up to Noahs love for extreme roller coasters. But Cece and Luke had a great time. And the older two didn't complain. It was really worth the money to get in there just to see all the Lego sculptures. They have whole towns, New York City, Las Vegas, DC-complete with the Obama inauguration scene. Luke said that the city scapes were his fave part. One stupid thing we did was wait to do our souvenir shopping at the end. Its was madness- what were we thinking....!

We met Kens sister Wendy and our niece Jordan in Carlsbad for dinner. We didn't get to see Jord surf :( but it was fun to hang out and hear about their cross country adventure and what they have been up too.

Tonight i barricaded Cece in her bunk bed, cause last night when I got up at 4am to go pee pee I stumbled over Cece on the floor of our cabin. Just a sleepin away face smashed right on the icky wood floor. oooooooooh myyyy how long had she been there. Of course I couldn't get back to sleep thinking of all the germs and possible bug encounters she had laying on the floor. So now it its off to sleep and in the morning we will pack up and head north east. We are homeward now. Wow time has gone fast. We are missing home made food. And our dog Jack. And our own toilet. Among some other things. But really not ready to come home quite yet.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Yesterday was a travel day. We checked out of our fabulous lodge suite at the Plaza Resort and set out for SanDiego CA. The landscape on the way was amazing. It went from red rock mountains, to brown dead looking no mans land, to beautiful white sand for as far as the eye could see, then all of a sudden it looked like God had taken his big dumpster of of huge rocks and dumped them out into big piles for miles and miles. We had quite a few border checks driving along Hwy 8, but they never found our Nacho :-). We also went from 97 degrees to 74 by the time we had reached the San Diego Area. At some point at a gas stop Ken thought the truck was acting up :( good ol chevy! Sure enough Ken found a Chevy dealer this morning bright and early that confirmed "yes you need a new fuel pump"+ a filter and computer programming and some stabilatrak thingy and 1400later we are good to go. Thankfully it is covered under the warranty we purchased! So all we have really lost is time.
Today we get to see the Alves girls. All three of them!!!! The kids are so excited. They used to babysit for us and have become like family to us over the years. But it has been over 2years since we have seen them. So today is going to be fun!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pool Day

Food Report: we started out our day going to Chompies, I would call it yummies if I owned it but Oh well. It was awesome. The kids meals were huge. They had tons of benedict choices and pancake choices. There bagels were really good too. Thanks for the tip Bradfords!

Then we went and restocked our book supply at the mall. And I opted to do my own pedicure so I got me some new nail polish. And Ainslie insisted on going back to Aeropostle to get a sweatshirt she had to have. (97 and sunny and now we are buying sweatshirts????)

Once back to the hotel we went right to the pool and played and swam. When it got too hot the kids watched Escape to Witch Mt 2, and I escaped to Trader Joes :) to buy some 5buck chuck and some greek yogurt and snacks for our friends.

Pete and Julie and the little boys and Tory and Sophie came to visit us tonight. We had the pool to ourselves so we ordered dinner and ate out by the pool and let the kids swim. It was awesome to just hang out and get to catch up. Also for our kids to finally get to meet each other. Julie's (Finkler) kids are beautiful and so nice. Cece had a grand time bossing the little boys around and the girls were like the three musketeers. Noah and Luke sorta stayed on the outskirts of the action. Well we have had a great time here in Phoenix area. Got to see some good friends, eat some great food, and get rejuvenated for the 2nd half of our adventure.

Tomorrow its on to California. San Diego, Lego Land, Helena, Jordan and Wendy. Hoping for some good eats too. I actually should walk to California I've been eating so much.

p.s. stacy if you read this give jack a big ol scratch behind the ears from us, we are starting to go through jack withdrawel :(

the Bradfords

We have been having a wonderful time in Scottsdale. Last night we were able to visit Pete and the kids for a bit. The girls got to see the horses and the kids played with Bo and Jack and jumped on the tramp. The boys seemed bigger just since we saw them in March.

Today we went out for breakfast at the Breakfast Club, the Real Food back home is better. (Sorry B-Club) Then Ainslie had a fierce need to go shopping, so we went to the Fashion Square mall and wandered around. Then back for a quick dip in the pool for dad and the kids, while I sought out a post office to send home 2 boxes of books padded with the hats and mittens and jeans we hopefully will no longer need on this trip!

Oh yeah, we stopped in to Sprinkles and purchased a dozen splendid cupcakes to bring as a treat to Bill and Kathy Bradfords home. We had amazing appetizers and dinner with the Bradfords. In Ainslies words "this is what I have been looking forward to... a home cooked meal" (maybe this eating out thing is getting old for my Sissa) It was great for me to finally get to know this family that Ken had told me so much about. The kids had fun playing ping pong swimming and then retreating to the movie room for the Wii. I think Luke didn't realize how much he missed the Wii. I think he actually had forgotten about it, to tell you the truth. The cupcakes were good, but what made them really good was the company they were shared with! It was great catching up, talking about vacation adventures and books that need to be read and family. Thanks for a great evening.

P.S. i have been trying to coax Kenny into writing , but he has not caught the bug. keep your hopes up Demetria

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Scottsdale, AZ

We rolled into town like the Clampets. The boys were totally freaking out at all the automobiles that we were passing in our dusty rig with a car topper on it. Maserati's, Begettis, Bentley's, Mercedes, BMW, and the list goes on..... They were pointing and screeching and in parking lots circling cars to the point that a valet had to ask Luke if he could help him. "no jus lookin"

Well our room here at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort is amazazing! Is really more like a house. Two huge bedrooms three bathrooms. butlers pantry big dining room and living room with a fireplace. Pool with in steps of our front door. We are not in a KOA anymore toto. In fact it is going to be hard going back to a KOA after stayin here. Our good friends dad works here and he gave us very generously his family discount!!! So we arrived at the Plaza and our bell hop helped us unload our junk. Poor guys I told him be careful its packed full, he must not have understood cause he pulled the back of the Suburban open and all or dirty laundry went crashing at his feet. OOopsies. Yes the Clampets have arrived.... so then our room didnt have a washer and dryer, spose people who pay the normal 1700 bones a night for this pad dont do laundry normally I guess. So I called up to the front desk and a very friendly gal said they would be glad to do our laundry for us, but there are no facilities to do it ourselves on site. Well, I thanked her, but told her it might be best if i found a laundromat close by. Silence (on the other end of the phone)...okay, but we would be happy to help you just let us know. Well yeh Scottsdale doesnt really have a laundromat in it you see. So we drove to somewhere Phoenix and found a very nice, clean place to do our laundry, the Soapy Sudz laundromat. it wasnt in the best part of town, but we got it done. Gotta love Ken, I actually left him there while I took the kids and found a bookstore. True servant qualities my husband has.

Okay now for the food update......we did go to Salsa Brava in Flagstaff yesterday. Its right on old route 66. They had a salsa bar, AWESOME! It was very good, would have to eat there regularly if we had one in town. Then today after going to the LifeChurch.Tv Phoenix campus for church we went to one of our fave place in Phoenix, Chino Bandido. Mexican/Chinese combo. We decided that we would eat here once a week if we could. The give you these awesome huge cookies after your meal, snicker doodle or volcano(chocolate).

So now we are heading to the pool and then we will visit Pete and the kids later, Julie is working, so we will have to see her tomorrow. Then we will visit a old Grandville friend of Kens, the Bradfords tomorrow night. And I think, that is a good reason to go to Sprinkles and buy the most awesome cupcakes and bring them as a good will offering for bringing my rugrats to there home.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Lake Powell/Page Arizona

Page is a place you need to spend longer than parts of three days. Note to self longer stay in Page. Court Yard by Marriot nice, roomy, great pool, free coffee, warm cookies, not super friendly at front desk-but so what..
We ate at great places. The Dam Bar andGrill(because of the Glen Canyon dam that is here damming up the Colorado River to make Lake Powell and give electricy to 1/2 of Arizona) it had great burgers and stuff. Then for breakfast we ate at the Frontier Grill- breakfast all day- very authentic southwest breakfast, we were the only white man in the place, yummyummy! Last night we ate at Fiesta Mexicana, also top pick, it could edge out Little Mexico on our list of fave mexican restraurants! But today I already have our lunch spot picked out in Flagstaff its called Salsa Brava, to be continued. I think i will come back from this trip speaking spanish and wearing an extra couple lbs.
Okay on with the activities. I will hand it over to Noah.
after breakfast we headed over to the lk to rent a boat. it took forever but finally we hualed all our stuff onto the speed boat we got and were off. one thing you have to know about lk powel is that its like a huge canyon maze of water and that the maps they give you, which suck, dont help at all. so the first hour we spent just looking for a way into the canyon (navojo) we wanted to see. after a while we just gave up and went tubing for a little bit, and had some snacks. cece is a mad tuber. i was on there with her and my dad is whipin us around and doin dunuts really fast and cece is just stickin on that tube like a frog laughing like crazy. half way through the time we spent on the boat we found navojo canyon. it was pretty cool. the walls to it are really high and boats are always flyin through there so there were huge waves. some of the time i entertained myself by throwing grapes at the passing boats. at the end of the canyon we got out and swam a little. then we made our way back to the docks were we had to fill the gas tank up, which was surprisingly fun. huge carp hang out around the area where you fill up your boat, and these fish are stupid. they swam right up to the surface, tons of them and you could literally pick them out of the water. of course we lured more of them to come to our boat by throwin chips and stuff in the water which you can imagine is why they hang around boats gasin up. and thats how our day on the lake went.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bryce Canyon, Utah

Hello, no we didn't fall into a canyon. We did fall into a space on earth with bad internet connection. We did find a yummy breakfast spot on our way out of Moab. If anyone was wondering. The Moab Diner. Huge cinnamon rolls and yummy homemade stuff. I got the green chili omelet yummy,cheesy, spicy goodness! Then we did some souvenir shopping and headed out of Moab around noon, we decided to skip Canyonlands Nat'l Park and headed toward Bryce Canyon. The scenery was awesome all the way to Bryce.
We stayed in the at Cannonville/Bryce KOA it was great. We have had great luck with these camping cabins. Once we got there we did a campfire supper, hot dogs and hobo pies, and of course smores. As you can see from the picture Kenny is quite organized when it comes to smore assembly!

Wednesday we headed to Bryce Canyon. The buzz we had heard about Bryce Canyon was right on. Everywhere you looked it was beautiful. It was more confined to to specific areas than Arches had been. You did not want to wander far off the path here. Cause the the bottom was a long way down. You could if you wanted schedule special hikes down into the canyon. We stopped at a hike called the Mossy Cave on the way back to our campsite, right off Scenic byway 12. It was the best it went along a fast rock bottomed stream and ended up at a beautiful water fall if you went one way and if you went the other you ended up at... you guessed it a mossy cave. The waterfall was much prettier. The kids loved this hike! After another campsite dinner we went to the Kodachrome State Park to try and catch the sunset. It was so worth the drive, once again the landscape was so different from what we had seen already, and it was only 10miles from where we were. it was like walking on Jupiter or a red moonscape or something. The sunset was spectacular, but the kids thought we missed it, it was a bit different than watching a sunset over the big Lake.
Two of the movies we have watched in the car, that have been the constant source of jokes and dialogue are Nacho Libre and the other is a comedian called Tim Hawkins/bananas comedy tour.
We also decided yesterday to make our own songs up to different things that had happened along the way and call it the Bryce Canyon Follies (since that's was where we were when the creative juices started to flow). For example we met a French family so we had a whole song with a french accent and we said we would dress like mimes and the Eiffel tower would be our back drop. Then someone said to Cece "hey Cec you haven't made up a song, what song would you sing" okay her song would be "My mommy is so mean to meeeee, she doesn't let me have pop in my wwaater bottle........." NICE! Us mommies are always taking the raw end.

Today, Thursday we headed to Page, Arizona. Checked into a hotel today. Yeah clean showers no more dirty feet! Tomorrow we will, weather permitting, rent a speed boat and go out on Lake Powell for the day. There are hundreds of houseboats here, which we originally thought we might do, but decided to just do a day trip instead. Lake Powell has 200 miles of shores, or should I say rocky cliffs, no sandy beaches for us tomorrow.
Love you guys!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Moab/Arches National Park

I was singing that song by Rich Mullins today in my head all day...."our God is an awesome God...." Cause this earth that he gave to us, whether it is broken and full of awful stuff or not, is quite amazing, spectacular and down right beautiful. I can't imagine what heaven could be like, okay now I am singing that song "I can only imagine.....". Sorry, I'm singing today, it was sunny and 75! Yipee! We went to Arches National Park, just north of Moab. We hiked out to see many of the arches and stopped along the way to have pbj and tried to drink plenty of water, it is sooo dry here, its inconcievable if you are from Michigan how dry it could possibley be in a place. Ken and I loved the park so much we said maybe we need to come back w/out kids sometime. (dont tell them that) Tomorrow we are going to try and take in a little bit of Canyonlands National Park, from what I have read it is harder to see in a day, so we will do what we can and move on to Bryce Canyon National Park. From what we hear that is the most amazing of all the parks in Utah. After what we saw today I find that hard to believe, but am looking forward to it. We will stay in a KOA cabin there too. We have done mostly cabins at KOA campgrounds and it has worked out great. The kids are reading and playing games and not sitting in front of the boob tube like the nights we have stayed in a hotel.
Okay so now if you didnt know it before this you know it now. ILOVE2EAT. So I will give you my foodie update. In Moab we ate at Eddie McStiffs(a little bit of everything, and lots of orginally homemade goodies) and then we ate at Jays Pasta, it was really good italian. I think Luke must be growing he is eating like a man, he ate a whole small pizza tonight! Maybe he will come home a little taller. Tomorrow we are on the look out for some good ol southwestern breakfast. So if any of you have been here and have a suggestion please email us.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Salt Lake City

Today is Sunday. We are missing our Church back home. It is our second week missing physically going to church. Today we will watch on our computer once everyone wakes up.

So........yesterday we had one of our longer drives from West Yellowstone to Salt Lake City, 5hours. Hey if any of you are in the city of West Yellowstone, and I know some of you will be, you have got to go to Wild West Pizza for dinner or Petes Pizza and Pasta, and you MUST go to Running Bear Pancake House. It was some of the best breakfast we have had ever! Or maybe we were just starving, no I do think it was some of the best.

We were in Salt Lake City by 1 ish checked into our hotel downtown, and then walked the city, went to Temple Square and to a great out door mall. Maybe we gave Noah too much info about the Morman church, who knows, but the kid was totally freeeeeaaked out. He did not want to be anywhere near the church and he definetly did not want to go inside, which you cant anyway. So we quickly walked through the visitors center and got out of there, because our son was feeling weird.....It is a city worth the stop, its very clean. Good place to stretch your legs.

My MAJOR dissapointment waaaaaaaaaas this I have looked up all these foodie places to go and this one I found was called the Red Iguana, the Diners Drivins andDives -foodnetwork show went there etc etc anyway I have been thinking about it, talking about it, salavating in my sleep over eating at this mexican place and we got there and there were soo many people and it was so small, my very hungry family was not willing to wait. WAAAAH WAAAH! Bummer for me! I would have waited half the night to have one of those margaritas and some home made mole and of course a huge tub-o guac. My foodie friends (you know who you are) are tracking with me. This was so disappointing... life is rough isnt it??

Okay I will stop whining about my missed taco.. Now I am singing the song "oo oo its raining again...." cause thats what its doing. We have had rain nearly every day. Today our plan was to go to the Great Salt Lake and swim and see if we could really float easier because of how salty it is. But we just went and filled little bottles and go the heck back in our car because it was 50 and raining. From there we drove on to Park City, Utah home of the 2002 winter olympics. We stopped at the olympic training center and watched the australian ski team practice jumping, they ski down the kill and land in a huge swimming pool. Which you too can do for $200 bones!!!! Of course Noah wanted to do it sooo bad, poor kid, life stinks! Back to foodie mode we ate at a great place called Red Rock, Yummy!

If you ever get a chance to drive highway 6 from Provo Utah south to Moab, it is a must see drive, awe struck, cant describe pictures wont do it justice kinda drive. And Moab seems like a cute litte tourist town.

Sorry for the long entry-hope I didnt bore ya. Hope you are all well.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Old Faithful/Yellowstone

Old Faithful took sooo long to start. Some ol guy told us once it blew that it would blow for 90 minutes, he was waay off, it only blew for about a minute. But when it did blow I got a lot of good pictures. In Yellowstone, we played a trick on people where we stopped and pretended to look at something, and tried to see if they would stop too, but they didnt. Because we were on a really fast road and no one cared. - Ainslie

This morning we went on banana bikes for 30 minutes, then we went to the paint pots and old faithful. I thought the paint pots were cool, because they would bubble up and stuff and do big bubbles. Then we came home and went to the pool. -Luke

We went to see old faithful, we went into a gift shop, and waited for it to explode. And I got and arrow head from the gift shop. We walked around around the geysers and then we sat on a bench and waited for it to explode. First one piece of water came out then it went down and then bigger pieces of water came out, then the water started to go down in a water fall down the rocks. If you touched it you would burn your hand. Every year a kid goes on the geysers and they get burned, so you dont want to do that. I just wanted my teachers to know that. And the kid that went on the geyser in the picture on the sign looked like Luke. And the rocks had got burned, it looked like blood from a buffalo. -Cece

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Joliet, Montana/Yellowstone

Wednesday- we left Buffalo, Wy and headed towards Montana to visit my Uncle Gary (my moms brother). We stopped at the site of the Battle of the Little Big Horn. If you are a history buff this would be a great stop, for us it was a good excuse to stretch our legs, go "potty", see a few prairie dogs and take a picture of the kids in a cemetery. Weird, I know. Then on to Joliet, which is on Hwy 212, which takes you south into Yellowstone. We had a great visit with my uncle whom I hadn't seen in 5+ years, and got to meet his new bride, Bonnie. Joliet is a two bar town and they own both of them. In Montana kids can belly up to the bar, so that's what our kids did for a bit while we got reacquainted and met Bonnie. They also shot some pool. That night they made us an awesome dinner, back at their house, and we played a crazy game of charades.

Thursday-We drove south to Roberts and had breakfast at the Roberts Cafe with my uncle, it was a place we never in a million years would have stopped. We had to walk through the kitchen to get to the bar/dining room. The walls were painted with murals by the owner/cook. It was fun going some place only the locals would go.
YELLOWSTONE- in the words of Luke "spec a taca lar lar". We made a stop in Red Lodge, very fun town to walk around in. Went to the Candy Emporium and got each of us enough sugar to get us through the day in the car. Red Lodge is definitely worth a stop. Then on to Yellowstone by on Hwy 212 which is also called Beartooths Pass. It was literally too much to take in. The road has only been open for a week, so we saw lots of snow and even some really crazy people at the very top of the pass skiing. We got out at a "lookout" at 9100ft and we could hear the wind whipping through the mt.s the river roaring below and the smell of evergreen was so strong it made you want to keep taking deep deep breaths through your nose. And the most amazing thing was we saw a butterfly, like and angel floating by. Where it came from at that altitude with the cold temps, was like God snapping his fingers in front of us.
The car was a buzz once we got into the park, there was so much to see. And then Dad thought it would be a good idea to make a betting game out of it. "The first one to see a bear $5, a moose $2, a buffalo $1". Well it seemed like a good idea until it turned into the Olympics of spotting animals and everyone was yelling and fighting and making up crazy rules. END OF GAME. Moms going to go crazy. Some yelling from mom and a death threat by dad and the betting game was over and peace was restored. Well we saw one bear from a distance, we saw a multitude of elk, antelope, beavers, a moose, a ram, and hundreds of buffalo. We even got caught in the middle of a herd,of buffalo, on the road in our truck, a bit too close for comfort, if you as the mama. The weather has been crappy if I may be so blunt. And today wasn't any different(okay ken just reminded me that today did start out sunny-oops I forgot), it didn't really allow us to stop and get out and take any of the hikes. But we are hopeful that tomorrow will be a new day full of sunshine. Look out old faithful the Johnson's are headed your way.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


today we left the hill city koa and started to make our way to our next destination in montana. the 1st stop of the day was in deadwood, about 1hr from koa. deadwood is an old town on the western side of s. dakota (the town where wild bill hickok was shot). there is a lot of history behind it including shootouts, tunnels, and "cowboys". 1st we took a bus tour through the town that was narrorated, it was pretty good as far as bus tours go. for lunch after that our guide recomended the midnight star, kevin costners restuarant. it was really good. on the walls were all costumes and signs of the movies he had been in. the restuarant was on top of a cosino. there are a lot of casinos in deadwood, thats pretty much how they make most of their $. from deadwood we drove to devils tower and took a hike around the base of it. it was realy cool and a good way to stretch our legs. when leaving devils tower we noticed a little rodent things running across a field full of mounds of soil with holes on the top. we then noticed another one and another, they were all over the place. right up next to the road they were nibbling the grass so we got to put the windows down and see them up close, they didnt even run away like we've noticed animals in michigan do. and that was our 1st incounter with prairie dogs. when we got back on the road we saw a ton of dear and also these cool antelope things. we are staying the night in buffalo wyoming. tommorow we will make it to jolliet montana.


Monday, June 1, 2009

Mount Rushmore

Can any one of you remember back to your changing table days when your mother would lay you on the changing table after your diapy had been changed, you looked all content so she would leave you there and then you would start to cry cause that pad you where laying on was thin and hard and the plastic would make you sweat...... Need I say more. I had flash back in the middle of the night that I was a giant baby laying on a changing table, and when I woke up Ainslie was saying mom mom, I gotta go to the bathroom, and in my half asleep stupor I couldn't figure out how to get off the changing table. Okay enough grumbling about the beds here at the KOA.
You will have to be patient with the lack of pictures. I forgot my camera cord thingy that I plug into the computer. So as soon as we get to a Best Buy hopefully I will be up and running with that. I will try and put some video on today, see how that grabs ya. We got to see Mt Rushmore this morning. Cece was the first to see it. She hollered I SEE A HEAD and Noah came back with YOU DID NOT but sure enough she had. As we rounded the bend there is was in all its granite glory. George, Thomas, Theodore (or as Cece says Tezzy Rosevelt), and Abraham. We got there early and ate the monument breakfast(which we recommend you do, its pretty reasonable and yummy and the view from the cafeteria is amazing) in the visitors center then we took the 1/2 mile step filled walk up to it. There were rangers along the way giving facts and stories or you could buy a head set for $5, we listened to the rangers.
Now we are waiting out a storm in our cabin after a lunch of pbj and sweet chili Doritos's and pop. The foodie in me is not being satisfied here in the Black Hills. After the storm clears we are going to take a scenic drive around Custer not Custard-mmm that sounds good- State Park and then see what Custer the town has to offer.
A drive in the rain this afternoon took us on Needles Hwy. It was well worth the drive, many hair pin turns and lots of oohs and aaah. It seemed at every turn there was a view even more amazing than the next and this in the rain, I can only imagine how cool it must be with a little sunshine. Custer is just a town nothing special we headed back to Hill City where I finally got a decent meal. Mexican!! Rico's very authentic, no frills kinda place but we filled our bellies and headed back to the KOA for mini golf in the rain and 3 loads of laundry at 2bucks a pop, but heh the lady before me got the dryer stuck so I got my cloths dried for free. Now don't think i am a dryer stealer, cause she told the management and they just shrugged their shoulders........

Sunday, May 31, 2009

South Deekota

Well, yesterday was our longest day on the road. 12 hours, 650miles, 2 bad restaurant stops, 100's of wind "mules", 3 hours of whining (by the 6yr old), 101 signs for Wall Drug-home made doughnuts and 5cent coffee(but when we got there FINALLY it was just closing-aaahh man), 40minutes of lost time because the stupid GPS got us lost, and 1 small rustic cabin.

Corn Palace, not worth the stop.

Because if we hadn't stopped at the stupid Corn Palace, that smelled like Grandma's basement, we would have most likely made it to Wall Drug before it closed. Look at them, can't believe they are actually smiling after this day.....and the disappointment of no doughnuts or 5cent coffee.

The long and winding road.....or in this case just the long straight never ending road.....

Our Cabin in the at Hill City KOA.

Thank God for new days.

Today we woke up to blue skies and an amazing view of the black hills from the porch of our cabin. And our cabin didnt look so rustic in the light of the new day. We are stayin at a KOA right near Mt Rushmore/HillCity. It is really family friendly, pools, free mini golf- Cece played 12 games! splash park, etc etc.

We did drag the kids away to go see the Crazy Horse Monument. Crazy Horse was really amazing, not sure what we were expecting, but it was really worth stopping at. This guy Korczak Ziolkowski-now thats a mouth full- was asked by the Lakota Indians to carve a monument to their chief, this man dedicated his whole life to it and now his 10 children and wife have taken over the project that has been going on for 60+years. Kinda cool............

Friday, May 29, 2009

Visiting the Draces~ Wisconsin

We attempted to surprise Noah with a visit to our good friends the Draces,in Hudson WI. Mike and Sandy used to live in Grandville and Noah and Parker where best buds.

We thought since we were with in an hour it would be fun to surprise the boys, but, they figured it out before we got there. It was still fun to see Noah's face when he realized where we were headed.

We really enjoyed catching up with Mike and Sandy. What a beautiful place they have. Hudson Wisconsin is such a fun town. Very quaint, cute shops and nice restaurants. The kids have just been go go go. The boys are actually out ding dong ditching the neighbors at the moment....... Ainslie got to go to McKenzie's school carnival, and her an Kenzie had a caricature of them drawn. Its been great seeing where Parker and Mckenzie hang out. Its going to be hard to get up early and hit the road....But tomorrow we have 635miles to go to South Dakota. Thanks Draces for a great visit, your awesome host. We will be back if you'll have us!!!
Oh yeah and we did stop at a "cheesy" road side cheese store and buy some cheese curds,(and Kenny had to have a seat in their luxurious restrooms, TMI) when in Wisconsin do as the cheese heads do!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


We just cant express how thankful we are to all our friends who called today to wish us well, to those who stopped by, to Grandparents that took time to come see us, and to the many of you that dropped in at 5:15 today to cover our family in prayer. WOW words cannot express how overwhelmed we were. Prayer is amazing and powerful. God uses it to draw us closer to Him but in that he draws us closer to each other-binds us together. Thank you Demetria for letting the Holy Spirit work through you. And thank you all for taking time from your very busy schedules. We love you and will miss you. We will keep you in our prayers while we are away.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

5 Days and Counting

Kens working all weekend. The kids want to see friends. Mom wants to see friends. Mom wants to keep house clean and keep packing. And poor Jack (our 4yr old golden retriever) is discovering something is up. I think he spied a suite case possibley a duffle bag or two, and now he has the sad eyes on,and his eyebrows are shifting every which way. OOOh I wish we could take him with us, but that is out of the question.

Tomorrow we get to spend time with our church family. The Nesbit boys are grilling for us all. That what I heard anyway I hope its true.

Ken is working, again. Someones gotta fund this adventure of ours. My garage sale money is not gonna make a dent in it. Tomorrow evening cousin Jordan is babysitting and we are going to Saugatuk with friends, for our last adult only dinner for many weeks. I'm not complaining....I am just saying that eating in public with my four kids, one of which can't sit down to save her life, while she is eating dinner, (we wont mention names but it's not Ainslie), for 30 days straight might give me a few more gray hairs.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Where does one start??? Months ago.... we found out Ken would be able to take 1month leave from work and we said lets take a big vacation. Europe to vistit our friends Andrea and Tim ????No kids maybe too young/flights too expensive. Out West USA, yes neither Ken or I have seen much of our country, so the planning began. I guess I'm an over planner. Stacks of books, hundreds of lists, many nights pouring over maps, while Ken said uhhuh uhhuh yep yep, and now the packing has begun, the lists have been saved on microsoft Word, and we have 6 days to go.....and I have stopped reading the travel books and brochures and stopped hanging out at Panera (because we have dial-up and it took too long at home to do research) and now I'm going to relax and let it all happen.