Friday, March 31, 2017

Road Trippin Part 2: The Petrified Forest

After a full night of sleep in that blessed hotel room in Albuquerque, back into the van we climbed. As we rode along I-40 toward Flagstaff, Arizona, we saw a sign for the Petrified Forest and decided to stop and check it out.

As it turns out, the Petrified Forest was a roughly 20-25 mile drive-through with multiple opportunities to stop and explore along the way. This was the girls' first opportunity of the trip to participate in the Junior Ranger program, officially making this a field trip and not just a vacation.

While the girls worked on their Junior Ranger scavenger hunt, Owen ate a snack.

What a beautiful desert!

Owen had a hard time passing up rocks to throw. I could tell it was going to be a long trip.

Oh these two.

A fun museum to explore...

Learning about this Native American painting...

Classic - the original Route 66!

Then we saw this cactus and everyone wanted a picture of it! I'm still not sure why!

And that was the bulk of our Thursday, day 3 of our trip. The Petrified Forest was a hit, and the girls got their first Junior Ranger badge. Then it was back in the van again and on our way to Flagstaff...

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Road Trippin Part 1: Carlsbad Caverns

Last month, Spencer worked his last day at the outpatient clinic where he has been for over four years, to begin a new journey of starting his own business. And in the time lapse in between the last day of work and the first day of opening the new clinic, there was only one thing to do: Load up the kids and the bikes and a tent and a ton of food into the minivan, and set off across the country.

Road trip!!!!

We left on a Tuesday afternoon at 3:30, and we drove until 11:30 the next morning, when we landed in Carlsbad, New Mexico. I have never seen myself as much of a night driver, and I have to admit that I questioned Spencer's sanity when he suggested driving all the way through the night. But when I realized that the kids slept for 8-9 hours while we drove across the entire state of Texas, I knew he was right and it was definitely worth feeling like a zombie the next day.

So here we are at Carlsbad Caverns, our first major stop on our trip. The first thing Averi Kate did when we got out of the van was to jump over a cactus, so I knew it would be a good trip.

It was hard to have a picnic with those crazy winds blowing.

Everyone was so happy to be out of the van!

This is a place that Spencer visited back when he did his wild and crazy bachelor road trip before we got married. He was really excited for us to experience it too.

Oh the love.

We were in New Mexico!!!! It was surreal!

Going down into the bat cave.

It's hard to see but there were all these bats flying around the entrance to the cave. We had to walk under them to go in. In fact, it actually smelled a bit like bat pee (which I can now recognize) walking in, and I noticed that Claire kept smelling my hand (which I had just washed and smelled like soap) as we were walking. It was kind of weird, but it made sense.

Owen had the life, man.

The pictures aren't going to do it justice, but the rock formations in the cave were amazing.

Taking a break - it was truly a LOT of walking.

So we spent all afternoon at Carlsbad, then left and planned to drive for a couple of hours and find a hotel to crash and catch up on our sleep. We didn't count on the fact that it was spring break for Texas which meant that every hotel in New Mexico was full. We had to heat up our supper in a (full) hotel's microwave and then eat it on the road while we searched for the next (decent) hotel that had availability. We finally arrived in Albuquerque and found one near the airport. And even though there were planes taking off and landing all night, all five of us slept like rocks and felt much better in the morning.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The end of February, and a new baby.

With the end of February came sweet AK's birthday. We had a little party at a local park. She had such a great time with her friends. And her cupcakes.

This is her bff Anna. AK and Anna could not be more different from each other (except in sweetness). They are polar opposites, but love each other (and also fight) like sisters. We are so thankful for Anna and her whole family.

Also at the end of February, we did a geography lesson outside. We were using miniature horses to find some of the countries we have been studying.

However, we were one horse short, so I sent AK inside to grab another one.

That horse found all the countries at once.

Also at the end of February, Claire had big lips and everyone was cold after bathtime.

And then at the beginning of March, sweet baby Savannah was born. I was so thankful to be there for the birth of my third niece. Jen did awesome and Savannah Reese is perfect. We love the McLeods!