Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Finally able to relax

We've updated the blog with 3 new posts including this one, so you can start a couple posts down to catch up. We didn't want to do one HUGE post. Ok, now for the rest of the story...

Now that graduation is over and all the parties are done with we are finally able to relax for a day or two. We spent most of the days getting ready for the rest of our trip. Sierra Trading Post was having a huge Memorial Day sale and boy did we take advantage of it. New jackets, new clothes, new day packs, etc... We also got the girls updated on their vaccinations, got some laundry done and got the car packed. We were able to consolidate a lot of stuff and now the girls have a little bit more room to move around. Whaddaya know; we're getting a lot better at this packing thing. The last night we were in Koehler Kountry we spent basking in the home-made goodness of the wood heated hot tub that my dad built. It was really nice and gave us the best night sleep!!

The next day (Tuesday) we left after lunch with Mom, Dad, Mak, and Brandon. We headed out the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway. Named the most scenic stretch of land by Teddy Roosevelt. The highway takes us over the Rocky Mountains. We actually hit about 28 degrees and hail. It was the first time the girls had ever seen snow. We were thinking about letting the girls out to play but figured we wouldn't be able to see Snowflake in all that white. It would have been just two little black eyes and a black nose. It was really beautiful. We even got to assist two ladies who had gotten stuck in the snow. They had driven off the road and lukily a guy with a suburban came by and we were able to tow them out. The rest of the drive was very pretty but fairly uneventful. We spent the night in Bozeman, Montana and are now ready to get on the road agian.

We apologize to all of you trying to keep track of us for not keeping the blog up to date but it's been hard to find an internet connection. Wyoming is on the far side of the universe technologically. As you can see we can't even post pictures but we will as soon as we are able. Hopefully our next stop will be a little more advanced. Stay tuned to find out!!!

Graduation!!!



I am so proud of my sister!! She is the most talented, open, loving person I know. She graduated with a 3.6 gpa and has been accepted to the Young Americans. This is a 4 year college for performing arts. They travel around the country exposing grade school, middle school, and high school students to the fine arts of music and dance. They take time to talk and interact with the students and then afterwards give a performance. If you have ever heard of Up with People, it's kinda like that. They have also performed for presidents and dignitaries the world over. They even had a special stage that they performed on right next to the French Riviera. During the school year they will have a full load of classes (17 credit hours) plus dance practice plus work. On the weekends they will have about 20 hours of dance practice. I am really excited to see what an amazing dancer she will become. But don't let her know that cause I don't want her to get a big head!!

The graduation ceremony was pretty cool. Nice and short. The speaker was pretty funny too. Makenzie was sitting between two 6 foot something guys (you can click on the pic to enlarge). Her head didn't even reach their shoulders. Afterwards we went to some graduation parties. I got to see my old martial arts coaches (Mr. & Mrs. Gallager). They really whipped me into shape before I went to the CG Academy. Their son, Brian, is a member of the US National Martial Arts team and is a hopeful for 2008 Olympic team for Beijing.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingAfter the party we went back home to check on the girls and take a nap because we were volunteered by my mom to chaperone the Senior party at the rec center from 9pm to 5 am. They had all sorts of stuff going on. A dance, handwriting analysis, caricatures, diving for money, a hypnotist, mechanical bull, a velcro wall and inflatable rides. We left about midnight, we just can't hang with the younguns anymore. (We're old.)

The next day was spent pretty much recuperating.

Sometimes you just have to stop and smell the sulfer...

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting...of the Thermopolis hot springs that is. Zach and I drove from Sidney, NE to Cody, WY on Thursday. We were going to stop in Thermopolis to enjoy a night at the hot springs, but after determining how long it would take us to get from Cody to Bellingham, WA to catch the ferry, we decided to head on to Cody and surprise Zach's parents and sister. We did stop in Thermop to enjoy walking around the springs anyway. Snowflake tried to jump in, but luckily we caught her in time. It would have really hurt her. It was beautiful, but man, did it stink!?!

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingWe also stopped in the Wind River Canyon and Boysen Resevoir. We just took our time and enjoyed the drive and the outdoors. We were only on the interstate for a few hours of the trip, then on the backroads of Hwy 120.

When we made it to Koehler Kountry we started the hike to the house when Makenzie drove up. Photobucket - Video and Image HostingIt was funny, b/c the driveway was muddy and the Magnum didn't have enough oomph to make it to the house (Zach wouldn't get me a Hemi - pbbth), so we had to stop about a 1/4 mile from the house and walk. Mak had to do the same b/c her Saab is low. She started running to us and lost her flip flops in the mud, but kept running up to Zach. I think it's great how close they are and how much she looks up to him.

WPhotobucket - Video and Image Hostinghen we made it to the house, Pops came out with a glass of his homemade wine (good stuff) and mom came out all smiles. She swears she "knew" we were coming, but yet she didn't have dinner ready. (just kidding mom, I know you were busy). Good thing she has a good sense of humor with a daughter-in-law like me, huh?

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingSince we were a day early we decided to take a white water rafting trip down the Shoshone River on Friday. The river was a bit low but was still rough enough to give Beth a good soaking!! (Zach gave the guide a good tip just for that) Beth was all smiles through the trip. I (Zach) loved seeing the excitment in her eyes. It was a really good time and didn't take all that long. All in all I think we were on the river for a little over an hour and got to experiece some class 2 rapids. Class 5 are the worst class of rapids just to give you an idea.

After the river trip we hung out at home for a bit and then headed back into town to pick up Makenzie's boyfriend Brandon and went to go see X3: The Last Stand. I really enjoyed the movie and it stayed pretty close to the comics. It was even better because Brandon works at the movie theater and was able to get us in for free!! It's good to know people in high places.

The next day is graduation. I can't believe that my sister, Makenzie, is graduating already!! I am so proud of her!!!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Meet us in St. Louis...and Sidney, NE too


We have had a great couple of days. We took our time driving from Seymour and stopped several times to let the dogs play and us stretch our legs. It's always nice to get out of the car for a little while, even if it's just to get gas. We have taken to stopping long enough for lunch to sit down to eat. That's been a nice break. We didn't really know where we would end up staying on Monday. We wanted to try to make it as close to St. Louis as we could, but didn't know if we'd stop to camp before or after we passed though. We made it easily to the city before rush hour.

We all wanted a break, and Beth really wanted to see the Gateway Arch, so we decided to all get out and enjoy a nice walk down to the Arch and sat on the lawn enjoying the view of the Mississippi River and the people. What a fun way to spend an afternoon. We had all kinds of people stopping us to see our dogs. It was quite funny. It was really amazing to see a structure like that. Did you know that the Arch was designed in 1943 and built in 1962-ish and that in order to set the final piece together (the center) they had to wait for the perfect time, temp and windspeed? That's just amazing! They did all of that before computers were everywhere and before you could just plug some numbers into a formula. They had to do it all by themselves. I think that totally blows away some of the more elaborate structures being built today. I love the simplicity of it. Things so simple are oftentimes the hardest to make. Isn't that so often like life?
After about an hour we decided to trek off to find a place to camp. That was an adventure all by itself! Boy, let me tell ya. It took us a while to find somewhere, but we finally did about an hour outside the city in O'Fallon. We stayed at the Cherokee Campground and it was interesting to say the least. We pitched our tent and set up camp to enjoy our evening. We were surrounded by mostly RV's with a few tents. Our neighbors had just been evicted from the campground (most of the people live there apparently) It seems cops had ambushed the place. Turns our we camped next to a meth lab. Isn't that special?

Tuesday we woke up around 6 am. It was a long, cold night in Missouri and we were up with the birds. Oh well, by 7 we were off. We were trying to make it to Lincoln, but when we hit it at 2 p.m. we decided to go further. We ended up going to our Wednesday goal (Sidney, NE) to spend two nights in a hotel. Camping made us achy and gave Beth a sore throat - yeah, we're wimps. We didn't have good sleeping bags though, so we'll use that as our excuse. We'll camp on the ferry and likely at Zach's parent's house too.

We found a hotel that allows pets right next door to Cabela's. They normally make those with pets stay in smoking rooms, but she said we could stay in a non-smoking. Not only that, but when we asked for the AAA rate and that was only a few dollars less than the regular rate, we asked if they had a better rate for military. Well, she gave us a $120 king room with a jacuzzi for $81! How cool is that? God was completely looking out for us. He has truly blessed us while we have been on this trip and just with this whole move.

Cabela's was fun today! It's huge - I'm talkin' 85,000 sq. ft huge! They have a big aquarium with fish native to the area in it. I also tried on my first pair of waders. It was quite a site, no pic, but I'm sure there will be one from Sierra Trading Post in Cody since I didn't find any that fit me. I'm just too short. I blame that on mom. lol. Zach decided to take a nap while we were there. He got tired of shopping with me. He wanted me to try out some fishing poles and I had NO clue what to do. When they put the reel on the rod and had me practice casting I had to ask what casting was. After they all stopped laughing they decided to not bother with casting and move on to see if I could comfortably reel in with that combo. I seriously thought that when you reeled in that you wound towards yourself clockwise. Gosh, that's the way I've always pretended to fish. Yes, I have pretended to fish, haven't you? They laughed about this too, but the sales guy made me feel better b/c he said I wouldn't know if I hadn't fished before, so there. *sticking out tongue

Ok, enough of that. Snowflake, Morgan, Zach and I are outside the hotel enjoying the fresh air. The girls don't know what to think about the wind and tumbleweed. It's too funny. Just wait til they see Alaska!

Tomorrow we're off for our next stop. We'll tell you all about it soon!

Monday, May 22, 2006

On the road again!!!


Well we're hittin' the road again today after a great visit with Gregg, Delinda, Savannah, Conley, and Rascal. We have no idea where we're going to end up today. Kinda exciting!! We're just going to put the sun at our backs until about noon and then drive off into the sunset. Keep checking back to see where we end up!! We may not be able to post for the next few days but you never know...

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Seymour Do-mour

We've been in Seymour visiting Beth's sister and her family, including their newest member (Rascal). We've been going non-stop since we've been here. The first day after we arrived we took a trek out to Cades Cove in the Smokey Mountain National Forest. It is absolutly beautiful out there. Cades Cove has a bunch of little picnic areas next to a stream. We brought stuff to grill hamburgers and discovered that Conley (our nephew) is a pyromaniac! He loved throwing stuff in the fire and watching it burn. He was truely facinated by it. But even better we discovered that Beth's sister Delinda is a Tree-Hugger!! Who knew??!?!?



After lunch Zach took a nap down on a log by the creek. It was very relaxing after all the stress of being on the road. Later we took a drive around the Loop Road and our niece Savannah (author of this post's clever title) played puppy as she hung her head out the window searching for all the wildlife we saw. There were deer, wild turkey, and we even heard some people spotted a bear. On our way back to the house we got stuck behind some turkey holding up traffic!! It was so frustrating!!! (appologies for the blurry picture but this turkey was actually running down the road)


The next day we had to take our dog Snowflake to the vet to get her ear checked out. Poor thing had a severe hotspot that was really irritated. The vet was really nice. Her and her business partner are right out of vet school but seem to know what they are doing. We had to knock Snowflake out to shave some of her ear so the medication can get to her skin and she was a little groggy after that. In fact she walked around the house like she had just had a bowl full of vodka. It was really funny but poor thing looks so pathetic with her new cone. After we got our inebriated dog to bed we went to an Arts festival in Gatlinburg, TN.

I think we saw about 10 booths before we got rained out. But walking around Gatlinburg was really fun. We snacked along the way and got to watch a candy maker at work. Then a great dinner at a local restaurant and back home for some more relaxation.

Tomorrow we are back on the road again. Before now we've had an idea of where we were going to be at the end of the night but tomorrow we have no idea. We're just going to drive until we can't drive anymore and see where we end up. Stay tuned to find out!!!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Doin' the Tennessee Waltz



We made it to Dyer, TN (close to Memphis/Jackson) on Monday evening to visit with Beth's Aunt Linda, cousin Brian and their grumpy old dog Chico. We had a nice visit. It was the first time we've seen them since 2002. It was very odd being there without Butch, Aunt Linda's oldest son. He was killed in a car accident on Feb. 26 of this year. It was very hard on all of us. Zach and I weren't able to make it to the funeral so we wanted to spend a few days with them while we are on this big adventure. Butch was a big burly man with a heart of gold. He was just a big teddy bear. May he rest in peace.

Tuesday was a really lazy day. We didn't get up and out until about 4 p.m. There is a Mennonite grocery in the next town over that we went to and got some goodies. We got some jams and snacks. Everything there is all natural or organic, so we were loving it. Ok, so we're a little crunchy, but that's ok, we're healthier b/c of it! They have GREAT sandwiches. The prices were decent too.

Wednesday we went to Camden, TN where my Grandma Gladys and Daddy Bink lived. It was really wierd to be back there. I haven't been back since Daddy Bink died 11 years ago. We stopped by the cemetary to pay our respects. I got pics of all the gravestones b/c I'm wanting to start our geneology. I think it will be very interesting to see where we come from, ya know? Aunt Clara was a trip! She is 93 yrs. old and just as fiesty as a woman can be. She told me that I got a good lookin' husband and that I better hold on to him or she would snatch him up for herself. lol. too funny.

Next we saw Ms. Wonzie, my grandparents neighbor. She is still so lonely after her friend Ms. Nona died. They lived together since, well, as long as I've been alive. She was surprised to see me and she was remembering things I said when I was a kid that I had forgotten about until she mentioned it.

Aunt Mary (91) was playing in the dirt when we got to her house. Zach says he thinks gardening must be the secret to living so long. Both she and Aunt Clara do a lot of gardening and are GREAT at it. Aunt Mary still has a big garden where she grows corn and tomatos and she takes care of most of it herself. I think she looked like a little tomboy when we got there with her longsleeves and baseball cap on with dirt all over her. She's so cute!

Aunt Chris was last. We almost didn't get to see her, but luckily we waited for a few minutes and Uncle Wilton (Aunt Robbie's husband) drove her up. Aunt Robbie has Alzheimer’s so they were visiting her. She had to take us to the catfish restaurant and wouldn't take no for an answer. She's just as stubborn as ever.

It was great visiting with everyone. I wish we could have spent more time with everyone, but hopefully we'll get to see them again when the CG sends us back to the lower 48. I wish Brian hadn't had to work so much. It would have been nice to spend more time with him, but we're hoping he'll come see us in Kodiak. I think he'd love it!

We're in Seymour, TN now visiting with my sister Delinda, Gregg, Savannah and Conley. I'll update again later with pics and info from our stop here. Sorry if this one got a little "diary-ish". I had to write it out here or I would forget. But it's our blog and we'll write what we want to (to the tune of "it's my party").

Oh!!! Congratulations go out to our friends Kari and Alex! They are expecting their first child and are almost 4 months along! We are SO happy for you! Love you guys!!!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Happy Mother's Day!!!

We'd like to take a minute to thank all the mom's out there. You so often go unrecognized for all that you do. I will have to say though, that I think we got the best mom's in the world, no offense to all you other mom's. I'm sure your kids feel the same way about you.

Saturday night we went to "our" restaurant - the Melting Pot. It's so yummy! Great time, better company. That is where Zach took me on our first date, proposed, and we have also spent every New Year and anniversary there. We're going to have to find something new to do now, because shockingly enough, there isn't one on Kodiak Island. What are they thinking? They would have all of 12,000 people on the island to serve. lol.

Our other restaurant is Village Inn. We know...odd choice for another favorite, but it's only because that's where it all began. I was managing the restaurant at night and he would come in to study for flight school. All the waitresses would hit on him and talk to him lots while I didn't talk to him at all and after a while made him take care of himself for the most part. Sad, huh. I guess he had to find out why. Bet he never thought he'd find his wife in the Village Inn. It was the only good thing to come out of working at that place. We forgot to take our pic inside, so when we got in the car, we decided to try to get a self-photo with the sign in the background. This is what happened. Yeah, we're dorks. But if you can't have fun while doing something crazy, like moving to Alaska, when can you have fun??



Picture missing due to technical difficulty


Mother's Day was a whirlwind of excitement with my dad's family coming to the house for a late lunch (yummy) and to celebrate the day. Grandma was feeling well enough to come too. It was good to see her there. She can't move around very well, and got pretty tired, but she came. She's one of the reasons we are all here today. Not only did we have Mom's Day, but 4 birthdays. My niece Makayla is turning 10 and my cousins David (19), Michael (17) and Jonathon (3) are all my Aunt Marissa's kids. I know...there is a huge age separation, I didn't leave out a 1 before the 3. Jonathon is the cutest, best kind of surprise EVER!

All in all it was a GREAT day. We had to say goodbye to Rebecca, Brian, Makayla and Olivia though, which was hard. The longest I think I've gone up to this point is 4 or 5 months, it will be at least a year before we see them again. Both of the girls broke down and I almost joined them. I may do that today as we are driving out of town. I'm going to take a minute to brag on them. Makayla has a heart of gold. Since she was 5, I think, she has been growing out her hair, then cutting it to give to Wigs for Kids. Last week she donated her second ponytail. I'm so proud of her. And Olivia, she is so funny. She is a priss-pot who when asked what she wants to be when she grows up, answers "a head cheerleader". Not just a cheerleader, but the HEAD one. She has a laugh that could light up the world. She laughs and everyone else does too. We are so proud of both of them.

To our small group: We will miss you tonight. It will be wierd not being there. Please keep us in your prayers as we keep you in ours. We love you all!

Today we're on the road again. Not sure when we'll have access to a computer again so keep checking back and we'll let you know where we end up next!!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Made it...


...well as far as Pensacola at least. Took us a little longer than we thought since we had to drop off Zach's Chevelle in Orlando to get shipped first. Zach's dad and uncles came down to get it started. Uncle Justin (L), Uncle Dennis (R), and Uncle Glenn (BL) live up in Bell, FL. [Pops at BR]
Then afterwards the guys stood around the truck telling lies. It was nice seeing Dad and his brothers together. Anyway back to the story...I drove the Chevelle and Beth drove the Magnum over to Orlando to the shipping place and then we headed North-West to Pensacola. Not much exciting happened on the drive. The girls slept most of the way. Its been pretty relaxing after the couple weeks of chaos we've had. Havn't had much to do. We got a PSP (Playstation Portable) and it is worth its weight in gold!! We can play games, listen to music, watch movies...anybody who is thinking about taking a long trip should invest in one. Of course Beth usually gets her hands on it before I do so I'm gonna have to start hiding it from her. Last night was pretty fun. Beth's parents (Hoyt and Judy) took us out to eat at Flounders on Pensacola beach. The same place where I took Beth after we had dinner at The Melting Pot on our first date. We'll be going there tonight. Unfortunately its not in the original location. We'll keep you posted on how the rest of the trip is going but right now we're just adjusting to our new way of life.