Thursday, August 30, 2012

Our first visitor

Note the lack of shoes on Genna's feet...sometimes, when you have several children, you leave home assuming that everyone has shoes just because you told them to...and sometimes, you're wrong!!

Right after arriving in Salt Lake City, an old college friend of Steve's whom currently resides in Germany with his family, was actually in town for business!!  Craziness!  We hadn't seen Kelly since August 2006 when we were visiting Germany!  We didn't exactly have much time to catch up, but we did the best we could!  Kelly treated us to dinner out, and we had a great time visiting.  Wow -- love friends that it doesn't matter how much time has passed, it is always great to see each other!  Missed you, Lisa, and Alex, too!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Arriving at our new home - Salt Lake City

We made it....our new "home" in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Feels strange, for sure.  We talked about the normalcy of feeling a little blue after a phenomenal last couple weeks.  Sure enough, it is a bit odd.  We are staying at the Pony Express RV Park, not the most awesome place, but it could be worse.  The pool is nice, the playground is ok, the snakes are interesting...yep, we've seen at least four so far.  The laundry room is nice and reasonably priced, but I don't appreciate the management guy who verbally accosted me regarding making sure I had put a swim diaper on Jake....and I had, but he totally acted as if I had not.  Just weird. The rules are a little excessive, too, like no towels outside your rig.  The advertised wifi also doesn't work at our site.  But's temporary. ;)  It only feels permanent since we've not stayed in one place for a whole month in the last year and a half...

There wasn't really an area to play, but the kids made the best of it.
Kristen, our neighbor in the next RV, really enjoyed playing with our girls.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Visiting the Ramsey's - last stop before Salt Lake

We had one final stop before the final drive to Salt Lake City.  We decided to stop and see our friends in Casper, Wyoming, the Ramsey's.  The girls remembered each other from our visit last year, so they wasted no time in getting down to the business of playing!   We had a fun evening of visiting and eating.  And, we scored quite a few things to make biking as a family possible once we get to Utah!  Plus, Genna got a scooter, they all got to pick a Barbie from Erin & Elise's collection, and Jake scored a "bike" that sings that he & Genna looooove.  Lana also gave some toys for the road that were awesome to help keep the little ones distracted for the last biiiiig drive. ready to be done with endless days in the truck.  Not sure we're ready to totally park it, but definitely ready to not be driving so much!

Alyssa of course had to show off, while Erin recited lines from the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory play she starred in.
It was really nice that the kids all knew each other already.
Bedtime story time.
After leaving Casper, we stopped at the famous Oregon Trail landmark, Independence Rock.
The rock is so named because Oregon Trail pioneers arrived here near Independence Day.  The rock has names carved in it that date back to 160 years ago.
It's a pretty steep climb up, so the wiser choice in footwear is definitely tennis no attention to the lady wearing flip flops, toting the baby. ;)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Fort Robinson, Nebraska

If you like open space, then Nebraska is for you.
When we left Minnesota, Steve really wanted to make it all the way to Fort Robinson in Nebraska, but alas, his driving limit is about 500 miles, and we were all running on empty from so much serious fun with family and friends.  We were all exhausted, so much so that for the very first time in all our adventuring, all four kids slept in the truck at the same exact time!!  Wow!!  They were so tired that when we blew a tire on the interstate, they mostly slept through the whole changing process.  That makes two blown tires on the rig in the last 14 months spent on the road.  They're always a little scary, but fortunately, we've caught it immediately when it happens.

We felt compelled to stop at the Corn Palace in South Dakota. Unfortunately they don't sell tires, so this was a rather hasty stop. ;)

Needless to say, we just couldn't make it all the way to Fort Robinson, so we ended up staying at Fishberry RV park in Valentine, Nebraska.  It was a super quiet little RV park, nothing special, but the kids didn't care.  They were just delighted to be out of the truck and run around and burn energy!

The sunflowers were at their peak, so many spectacular fields of gold alongside the road.
They next day, we drove the rest of the way to Fort Robinson State Park.  Steve really wanted to go last year, but it just didn't work out.  There were plenty of sites, and they were easy to get into and plenty long enough for us.  You do have to fill your tanks with water before you park as there is electric only at the sites.

Honestly, we ended up not doing anything while we were here except just decompress and enjoy a chance to relax.  It looks like there are a lot of pretty cool things to do here, but most of them cost money, and since we didn't even have a full day to explore, we just hung out.  That was enough, considering how busy the last week has been!  The kids had fun scootering around, and they also had an absolute blast at the playground.  The slides were super tall, but that didn't bother Jake; he kept going over and over and over again!

I enjoyed petting this horse while I was out for my short bike ride around Fort Robinson.
Right now, he is thinking "Please don't go, can't you see that I am lonely in here."
It felt strange to be in the West again after spending so much time in the Eastern US.
This is where they trained dogs to serve in WWII.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Our last night in Minnesota

The lovely and beautiful participants of the Serena-directed fashion show!
Just like our last visit to Minnesota, we spent our last night parked outside my sister Donna's house for one final hurrah.  Mark & Wendi & crew came over for another fun night of just being together and feasting.  Todd grilled so many yummy things---cheese-stuffed, blazing-hot jalapenos, zucchini, okra (loved this, wasn't slimy in the least), eggplant, mushrooms, and steaks!  And, Serena and Shanan helped me make homemade fresh pasta. much partying!  We're soaking it all in because we know when we leave, we're headed to an entirely new place where we know no one...yet!  So grateful for the chance to be here and do this!

Toys, toys, toys
The homemade pasta was delicious!
It takes a lot of work to feed a lot of people!
Cole had fun with this little scooter! 
Sleeping kids everywhere!!
Another early morning Gjesvold family portrait. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Visiting the Fricks

We also got to stay at my brother Mark's place in Ogilvie, MN.  I scored some clothes for Genna and Jake, and of course, we had more good times visiting!  More cousin time, more partying.  My nephew Evan turned 16, so we had a get-together with food, campfires, tag in the dark, and party lights. :)  Ha, ha....the kids (& I) always wanted party lights for the rig because they make it look so festive and inviting, but somehow, Steve just wasn't into it, so I was never able to convince him to splurge for them.  Wouldn't you know, my brother had some, so he put them up on the rig, and insisted we take them with us, so now we are proud owners of party lights. LOL :)

Jake and Cole spent a lot of floor time playing.
Julia and Alyssa had a blast together!
Wrestle time
More play time
The Gjesvolds came over for a cookout on Friday
Jake watched Dad and Uncle Mark move the firewood, and jumped in and grabbed a piece to help.  As he carried it, he kept saying, "Hard, hard," but he kept at it and carried several pieces.  So precious!
Nothing spells girl time like makeup & nail polish, right?  You can always count on Serena to have an assortment of both!
Fun in the sun
Steve successfully used potato chips to get Cole to warm up to him.
Mark gave us some party lights for the festive RV look.
Happy 16th Birthday Evan!!!  Super yummy cheesecake for the birthday boy--we're glad he shared. ;)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Visiting the Lindholms

Now that we know where we're heading, each time we pack up & leave, it feels a little more momentous.  The driving days have been long, and Steve has pretty much figured out his limit--500 miles in a day.  When we left Fort Wayne, we drove to Black River Falls and overnighted at a Walmart there.  They have you stay over to the side and back on their concrete pad where the trucks come in and unload.  It was actually perfect; we had the place to ourselves, and since it was away from the rest of the parking lot, we didn't feel bad at all about sliding out.  Great stop.

Chantal and her sippy cup ;)
Jake was really funny with this mirror; he was delighted with the "bebee" in the mirror.
Great times were had!
Great to see Uncle Mark and family!
These rides were very intense, the look on Linda's & Donna's faces say it all.
Lots of fun was had playing ping pong.
Genna is very fond of her cousin Serena.
The next morning, we drove to Becker, Minnesota to my oldest sister Hope's place.  The kids love coming to visit them out in the country!  They had a blast jumping on the trampoline and swimming in the freezing pool.  We also had a get-together with all of my family there on the second night before Hope and her crew left town for a wedding.  Lots of good sister time, lots of good cousin time!  And the most memorable thing would have to be the crazy ride on the dirt bike track....oh my, it was much smoother than a roller coaster, but it still made a roller coaster seem kind of tame!!!  Memories...

It was great seeing our friend Nina, who we haven't seen since we worked together at summer camp in 2001.   She has all the glow of someone about to be married!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Visiting the Dunlaps

I love, love the fact that we know people from all over the United States!  The truth is, I married a guy with awesome friends that have stood the test of time, and now I can wholeheartedly say they're my friends, too! We had a chance to stop in Fort Wayne, Indiana and visit with the Dunlaps before continuing our trek further west.  There was an awesome little city park called Johnny Appleseed Park just a few miles from their house, which made it so convenient to visit!  What a blessing, too, because we wouldn't have fit in their driveway or on the street!

We had a great time at the zoo! Jake got up close and personal with this giraffe.
Loaded wagon
Corban and Genna became best buddies.
It wasn't long until they were holding hands.   It is cute now, but we will probably feel differently in ten years.
Caleb the jungle adventurer
Alyssa and the Orangutan.   Alyssa is on the right.
We had such a great time visiting with Adam & Julia and their two boys, Caleb & Corban.  We visited the zoo, great zoo, though our visit was on a Saturday with perfect weather, so it was crowded, for sure!

After the zoo. we stopped by the playground.
It is a little blurry, but I love this shot of Adam and Julia sliding together.
They took us to a place that has been serving Coney Dogs for like a hundred years--the kind of place that you'd see on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.  We also went to a splash park where the kids got thoroughly drenched and had a blast.

We had to hit this Fort Wayne landmark.
It is so nice when we can send the kids off to their own table.
Apparently this place is always packed; we timed it well getting there at 3 on a Sunday afternoon.
Other than that, we hung out at their place and feasted!  Seriously, they spoiled us with Thanksgiving in August--fried turkey, mashed potatoes & gravy, green bean casserole, homemade biscuits, and cheesecake for dessert!  They kids jumped on the trampoline and played with legos. Jake fell in love with the boys' tractor trailer trucks.  And we enjoyed Adam's stories of college days.  Last but not least, we sat around and watched some of Adam's videos, including footage of my brother Mark that made Alyssa say, "I'll never think of Uncle Mark the same again!" LOL  We also watched video from when Steve & I got married almost 15 years ago!  Wow...we looked sooo young!!  Sooo fun to reconnect and reminisce with friends!

After Coney Island, we went to the splash fountains and burned off some energy.
We all got pretty wet.   Steve had fun swiping Shanan's "wig thing" and running around with it.
Jake loved playing with all the boys' toys!
The classic "sofa shot" family photo.
Adam showing off a more natural pose for him.
Thanks so much for your hospitality and generosity, Adam & Julia!  We all had a great time, and can't wait to do it again some day!