The ramblings of a woman,
wife, & mother, who loves:
Jesus / my man / the three,
learning about parenting /
mamahood / childbirth,
cooking foods healthy /
international / yummy,
pretending to garden /
write / design,
attempting to run /
exercise / lift weights,
enjoying traveling /
camping / adventures,
finding ways to love /
serve / sacrifice for others.

It is not to say she does these things
with style or grace, or even skill.


A Lazy Sunday: Fifth Day in the City

June 30, 2014 - 2:35 AM

Travel Log: 16 October 2011

SF marathon 2011

Even though we woke mildly early due to the time change, we were a sleepy, lazy morning bunch. The long, fun filled days were finally taking their toll and we were t i r e d. We woke to the smell of espresso and the sounds of the San Francisco Marathon passing by one block north of our house. (It is my dream to run this marathon someday. Anyone wanna join me? :)!)

Once we s l o w l y got moving, Josh went for another beautiful bike ride while the kids and I played at the beach near our house. I asked them to try their best not to get wet, but for some reason that never works with our three.

not wet yet

Josh had yet to get to enjoy the city with the kids, so for the remainder of this beautiful day they showed him the city through their eyes. They waited in the long weekend tourist traffic to ride the cable cars with him, showed him their favorite shops in Chinatown, walked up, up, and up to Coit Tower, experienced the various street performers by the SF Bay, smelled the sea lions, etc. They also convinced him to take them to the Boudin Bakery for an early dinner. Each of the previous four days they had tried to get their mom to take them there, but for some reason she wouldn't. Dad; however, was easily swayed. :)!

Boudin Bakery brought out the highs and lows of our life. Having any sort of food allergy and dining out at a new restaurant can require a handfull of questions. Today, we've found most restaurants are very up front about all allergy issues, but back then, only 3 years ago, it wasn't as common. In those beginning years of the diagnosis, it was embarassing for our child when we would ask question after question about the food or have to send food back because the restaurant made a mistake by not omitting something that was to be omitted. That happened at Boudin and it took a while to help our child overcome their embarassment. It wasn't "pretty" until that was over.   

But when life was "pretty" again, Josh took some beautiful photos of the kids while the four of them were being incredibly goofy taking photos of each other with our stash of cameras at the table. They were so goofy that they were even entertaining a group of Japanese businessmen walking past. Those men ended up taking pictures of the four of them even. Ha! :)! It's in moments like these that I always think, "This is what it means to be a Cramer." 




I wish I could come up with good examples of what that statement means, "This is what it means to be a Cramer." It's such a heightened level of goofiness it's hard to quantify. Most of you have never had the priviledge of watching home movies or seeing photographs of Josh and his sister interacting together, but if you've spent enough time with either Josh or Maren, I'm certain you know what I'm talking about, :)!

For me, it is also a beautiful reminder. Josh's mom's creativity was out of this world and she passed it onto her children in the most fun and imaginative ways. Even though she is no longer with us, it is in these moments that part of who she was is visible. It encourages me to tell stories of her and who she was to our kids who never got to meet their Grandma. *Sigh* When you're in the midst of a Cramer moment, you'll know and you'll be smiling, too.

We ended this day having racked up another good stash of walking miles but overall had an incredibly restful day. The new week had Josh attending the Web 2.0 Summit Conference and the kids and I getting back to our regularly scheduled homeschool programming. 


Stinson Beach and Muir Woods: Fourth Day (North of) the City

June 27, 2014 - 8:32 AM

Travel Log: 15 October 2011

For the previous six months, Josh had been loving his new BMC road bike and he was incredibly excited to experience California on two wheels. Thanks to the time zone difference between IA and CA, Josh could generally work until 3PM PST / 5PM CST and then go for a beautiful bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge, northeast to either Sausalito or Mill Valley, and still be home in time for dinner. Now it was the weekend and he was able to go on a nice long ride northeast of the city, into the mountains, and along the Pacific Ocean.


We planned it out so that the kids and I would drive to a secret little surf town north of the city and play in the ocean while Josh rode his bike the long, hilly, windy way there. However, when we got there the tide was in and the beach had disappeared. Unless you had a surfboard, you were out of luck. We opted to head back down the coast to Stinson Beach and enjoy our ocean time there.


Even in the cloudy weather, even with the cold breezes, even though the water was really cold, even with NOT bringing any towels, even though I was fully clothed in many layers while they were in their swimsuits... the kids loved playing in the Pacific Ocean. They quickly made friends with other kids at the beach and enjoyed burying themselves in the sand and playing on a new friend's boogie board.



At the end of our beach time, I did something stupid. Well, two things stupid. The first stupid thing was not bringing towels with us, or even a blanket. It was not entirely my "fault" since when you're renting someone else's house that only has white bath towels, even if I had brought them, it would have been rude to our host to destroy them at the beach. 

The second stupid thing I did that was my fault was I completely embarassed my daughter. We were using the outdoor, COLD showers and had no towels to help clean or dry. Due to the coldness of the situation, I was quickly and desperately trying to wash off the sticky sand that was stuck to her like tape residue. At that moment, I was only thinking about the sticky sand and not the embarassment of having your mom start to strip you down in public. 

While in actuallity no one saw anything, I stopped due to the immediate shock and horror-filled look on her face at that moment. That look has stuck with me to this day as it was the first time I could see my daughter as a young woman. (Yes, at 6 years of age.) Looking back on that memory I can see how part of her personality has always been being consciously modest. I would like to credit us for raising her that way, but this truly was / is inherent within her. In my moment of stupidity I grossly offended her sense of self. I should have known better. I should have known her better.

However, that moment and other similar situations over the upcoming year, were the start of deeper, more beautiful things in my / our relationships individually with each one of the kids, to truly get to know each one of them better. There were many previous years of fog that if it wasn't because of the last year's funnel, it was because of the years of undiagnosed allergy, or because of the years of lack of sleep due to newborns, or the insanity of trying to do too much, etc, that made things cloudy. I wish I would have "woken up" earlier, but for a long stretch I felt like I was simply trying to keep us all alive. Now, now I could see clearly, it was another "second" chance to seek forgiveness, to accept grace, to build stronger relationships, to strengthen our family. Oh, what a gift second chances are!


We spent the afternoon letting the kids experience the beauty of the Muir Woods National Monument. By the time we got home late for dinner it had been another long but rewarding day in its many life's lessons and blessings.  


Exploratorium and Alcatraz: Third Day in the City

June 25, 2014 - 8:45 AM

Travel Log: 14 October 2011

We were completely loving our City Pass to its fullest. We had ridden mass transit countless times, we had visited Aquarium of the Bay and California Academy of Sciences, and now we were going to use it to visit the Exploratorium and Alcatraz.

I decided that the kids and I should walk the 2.5 miles to the Exploratorium along the edge of the San Francisco Bay. On a very hot, cloudless, windless day, it was not one of my brighter ideas, but I did have a reason for it and was going on a hunch. While we were walking along the edge of the bay, the kids were all staring into the water, looking for any signs of life. They stumbled upon dozens of hermit crabs, amazed by each one. But then, the mother of all finds, Max saw a sea star, in the wild, and he was able to reach out and touch it. (Sadly, his mom wouldn't let him take it home. Poor guy! :)!)


Touching his first sea star IN THE WILD! :)!


SO HAPPY afterwards! :)!

From Zeke's dream of seeing a $400,000 Ferrari in real life or flying an airplane to Miriam's dream of having a neighborgirl she can play with (We love you, Kenna!) or doing science experiments, our Max tends to have the most extreme and biggest dreams and we have loved making them come true, one by one. (OH!, for the day we get to go to Japan!)

explore 2

The Exploratorium is the most amazing children's museum we have ever experienced. (Today, they have moved to a brand new location and building. It blows my mind to think this place could get even more amazing, but I am certain it is!) Each installation is beautifully created from both a scientific and artistic perspective. Say you want to learn about how sand dunes are made in the Arabian desert? Or experience a monochromatic room? Or understand perspective tricks of the eye? The installations are built not of typical plastic food and fake construction vests normally found in children's museums, but are solid works of metal and wood, science and art combined, built at the Exploratorium by artists, and truly meant for people of all ages. 


We all hated pulling ourselves away from the Exploratorium but we had a reservation for a ferry to Alcatraz that we could not miss! We walked/ran the 3.7 miles to the pier to meet Josh for our afternoon tour time. By the time we boarded the ferry, the kids and I were overheated and a bit grumpy. Thankfully, the cool breeze from the ferry ride to the island was a welcome relief.


Once at Alcatraz, you are given an audio set with a recorded tour that directs you around the entire island. The tour recording is wonderfully made filled with sounds and backgrounds noises, characters, stories, and interviews. However, it is erie when you remove your headphones and realize you are walking around in near silence with all the other visitors. The only sound being the shuffling of feet.

listen in silence

We once again closed down another attraction, and caught the last ferry back. Along the ride, Max spied a pod of dolphins swimming alongside our boat and everyone aboard got to enjoy the experience! What a treat! By the time we bought a mound of crab and walked home, we were all happy to call it an early night! Especially after we realized we had walked around the city for over 8 miles!

I was absolutely loving all the exercise the kids and I were getting in the city. Throughout our entire downtown stay, the intense amount of walking we did was one of my favorite parts. (It was even worth it when attitudes waned!) Sadly, we would not have the same experience once we got to the suburbs.    


California Academy of Sciences: Second Day in the City

June 24, 2014 - 9:33 AM

Travel Log: 13 October 2011

For our second full day adventure after bookwork, we headed to the California Academy of Sciences!

The location of the California Academy of Sciences is by Golden Gate Park and required us to ride several different electric buses. The electric buses in SF run on electrical wires overhead and though their wires look like clutter in the city, their eco-friendly design is perfect for traveling in a city of intense hills. While the three cable car lines are generally used solely by tourists, the buses gave us an honest view of "The Real People of San Francisco" (trademark pending? :)!).

At this time, too, SF was experiencing Indian Summer and the days were incredibly warm for October. Miriam had bought a fan in Chinatown the day before and was happily using it while we were waiting to transfer buses. At one point an adorable, eldery Chinese man approached Miriam and said, "You look Chinese!" Which absolutely made her day.

miriam fan

The California Academy of Sciences is more than simply a zoo or aquarium, they are an institution that supports education and research both at their facility as well as through field work. From enjoying the building itself, designed by Renzo Piano, to interacting with an adorable colony of African penguins, we spent the whole day here, from open to close. I don't even think now we could choose our favorite part of the CAS. Was it the massive living coral reef and aquariums? Was it the 4-story rainforest and its creatures? Was it the planetarium show? Was it the live snake demonstration? Was it watching the penguin try to hit on his trainer or seeing the whole colony swim around so playfully? Goodness. We learned so much during our visit and can say the whole experience truly had us all mesmerized... 


It was during our visit that I started to realize how out-of-this-world the opportunities are for students who live in or near large cities and how much our smaller local communities need to find ways to engage in similar experiences. The California Academy of Sciences offers so many opportunities for students from not only the visits, classes, or camps they offer, but also by allowing students, as young as middle school, to volunteer or intern with them and work alongside the scientists themselves. Seeing the amazing benefits of those experiences while talking with the students at CAS, makes me excited knowing about our local IC events happening like School of the WildIowa BIG, or CodeDays, but it also makes me long for many more subjects to be experienced.  

After shutting down the CAS, we wrangled ourselves home on the very hot, overcrowded, rush-hour filled bus with all 4 of us sharing one seat. We were ready for dinner at home and a night of cartoons on cable. However, I opted to end this wonderful day by excusing myself to the roof deck instead of watching cartoons...



Aquariums and Chinatown: First Full Day in the City

June 17, 2014 - 4:39 PM

Travel Log: 12 October 2011

By now, it was Wednesday. Even though my husband managed to work some on the three weekday travel drives, he had to get back to work 8 to 5 style and we had to get back to gettin' schooled. 

Prior to arriving in San Francisco, I bought 7-Day City Passes for each person in our family. The City Pass we chose gave us a pass to ride the Muni trolley, buses, and cable cars for the week and gave us entrance to the Aquarium of the Bay, California Academy of Sciences, Exploratorium, Alcatraz, and the SF Museum of Modern Art. It was a perfect purchase for how much time we had in the city and how much I love mass transit!

For the kids and I and our week in downtown San Francisco, I had planned to do our math and language arts in the early morning (hooray for two hour time change!) and then head out for hands-on adventures in science and history for the rest of the day!

For our first full day adventure after bookwork, we walked down to the San Francisco Bay to see the Golden Gate Bridge and visit the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park (Free with our National Parks Pass!). Then we walked two miles along the Fisherman's Wharf to get to our science field trip location of Aquarium of the Bay.

They call Fisherman's Wharf a "Merchants Association" but it is really just your typical, bright lights, flashy signs, souvenir, touristy area jam-packed with people, street performers, and salespeople of all kinds trying to get any money they can from the tourists. One of those people is a guy who I just found out has his own wikipage! He hides behind a bushy tree branch and then as an unsuspecting tourist (*cough, me, cough*) walks past, he lunges out with a loud "Boo!" Tourists will take videos of people being scared and he makes money, :)! (Admittedly, our kids were not fans of this guy since he scared their mom.)

Aquarium of the Bay focuses on the animals that live in the bay itself. While it is not a large aquarium, our kids are incredibly knowledgeable about sea life so no matter the size it is fun to watch what they've read in books come to life. The Under the Bay exhibit of clear glass tunnels was where our kids competed to name all the species without aid, as well as discover new things about the animals they love so much. The Touch the Bay exhibit was for interacting with sharks, rays, skates, and sea stars - and by interacting, I mean you get to touch them! For our son who is incredibly passionate about sea life, this was a step toward a dream come true. He has always wanted to touch a sea star in the wild and touching one at an aquarium was getting closer to his goal.

max touches sea star

After stopping to learn, see, and smell the Pier 39 sea lions and enjoying the musician street performers along the way, we hopped on a historic SF cable car and headed to the original San Francisco Chinatown. SF's Chinatown is considered the oldest and largest Chinatown outside of Asia. I loved this place before I went there, after I went there, and was incredibly excited to bring my kids there - yes, all by myself. :)!

chinatown with the kids

Hanging out in Chinatown was a wonderful lesson in culture and history for our kids and undoubtedly/still one of the kids' favorite memories of SF. From the goofy shops to the crazy food and herb stores to the amazing and sometimes disturbing smells to the fact that all the people were speaking Chinese dialects, they loved it all so much. And once we found our way to an authentic Chinese restaurant for a very late lunch, the kids had all declared they were in heaven!

After spending all afternoon enjoying the sights of Chinatown (the kids finding souvenirs, too!), we hopped back on the cable car and headed toward home to meet Josh for a late dinner (and beers!) at a wonderful place called La Trappe Cafe. Goodness, I love this city and I had so much fun sharing it with our Three.

I also loved that I had made the kids walk over 8 miles and they didn't even notice... ok, maybe one of them noticed...

zeke and miriam


Fifth & Final Stop: San Francisco!

June 6, 2014 - 3:43 PM

Travel Log: 11 October 2011

This day started off craptacular but thankfully ended on a high note.

Fifth & Final Stop: San Francisco, California

Dairy allergies are a funny thing and people can react to them differently. For us, when it used to happen, it required incredible patience on our part till it passed. The patience was needed not only for dealing with the reaction but also for dealing with a child who purposefully disobeyed by eating the dairy in the first place. (Holy smokes, am I SO thankful we are through with that phase!) Just like one little white lie can lead to a thousand more white lies, so can one act of disobedience leads to much more disobedience. We tried to drive around and enjoy some time in Lake Tahoe, but it was not going to happen. Lake Tahoe was over. One forced smile photo and then we simply needed to strap everyone in and get back on the road. 


We were able to continue on the two lane Highway 50 up and over the Sierra Nevada mountains, stopping briefly for hot dogs at the goofy Weinerschnitzel hot dog joint. We crawled through Sacramento, made a dash for the city, crawled through the city, and arrived at our first VRBO, right on time: 4:30pm.

Fifth day of driving: 5.5 hours, 189 miles

(Would have been 3.5 hours without traffic. Good thing the morning's issues had us leave when we did, :)!)

Our first VRBO claimed to be a beautifully restored Edwardian flat in the Russian Hill district. Oh. my. goodness. It was too beautiful to be true. It was a typical downtown San Francisco flat, built on a steep hill, beautiful ironwork gate, 3 stories tall, huge bay windows, tall ceilings, gorgeous bathrooms, and a beautiful rooftop deck with views of the Golden Gate and Alcatraz. It had a perfect location in downtown San Francisco, on a quiet street off a busy street, secure underground parking, one building from mass transit, two blocks from Trader Joe's, an arm's reach from the Ghirardelli Chocolate Marketplace, and a stone's throw from the San Francisco Bay and Aquatic Park. (Ok, more like one building away from the chocolate fatory and 1.5 small blocks from actually touching bay water, but still, you get the point, it was close!)

After staying at countless rentals and hotels over the years, I still have a mini-freak out each time we arrive at a new place. If we traveled like "normal" people with only suitcases, I'm sure it would be different. But we don't. We travel with a big cappuccino maker and dirty bikes and school books and laptops and devices of all kinds. Plus, I'm a stickler for not wrecking or scratching anything in the places we stay in. So while we are trying to unload into a place, I am trying to make certain what its condition was before we arrived in order to make certain we leave it exactly how we found it.

It usually isn't until after we unload, unpack, start laundry, organize, rearrange, situate, plug in, grocery shop, unpack again, and organize again and then pour myself a drink that I truly r e l a x. And holy smokes, what a beautiful place to r e l a x...


View to the north from the roof deck, with view of Ghirardelli Clock Tower, Aquatic Park, and Alcatraz.


View of the roof deck itself. When not galavanting around the city, this is where I would spend all my "free" time, from morning cappuccinos to afternoon drinks. 

Seriously, we're not the fancy-smancy type. We get by with little and we really don't need much. (Just visit our house to know that! :)!) This flat was an amazing find and, continuing the theme since we decided to go to California, since our Miriam was returned to us, since we bought our "new" car, since we even arrived safely in SF, I once again spent a lot of time thinking about really, truly, deep-down, being thankful to God.

I used to write down all the blessings we had received and how God had provided for us. During that previous year of our crazy, a person I considered a friend questioned me about where those blessings came from and lowered the significance of them to being coincidence, not from God. (They lowered the significance of how I had seen God work throughout my entire life, as a matter of fact.) Add into it, how much the image of Christians thanking God is like a band-aid, catch-all, typical, empty, self-centered thing to do, and how often Christians are portrayed in general, why would I ever want to publicly thank God?

It breaks my heart to say but during that previous year, unlike the Biblical character of Job, I slowly caved under the pressures of life, the words of the people around me, and I could not bear to rejoice or speak much of God. I knew He was there, through it all, but... but... I just was so dizzy and weak from the funnel

Finally being "alone" while driving out to California, with only my family, I was able to see through the things I had been listening to that were false. I felt so hopeless before leaving Iowa that, as I mentioned, I truly thought we were going to die on our journey. But with each new day of our journey, I was able to see the good of the last year, see the tethers, see the slivers of hope.

And now, here I was, drinking a beer on the roof deck - I was able to be thankful for the previous year, thankful for the crazy, life altering experiences, thankful for the grace, thankful for a new friend who had been a soft voice of truth through the chaos, thankful for the forgiveness for all the terrible errors I had made over the previous years, thankful for the many blessings - thankful to God.

This was only the beginning, these next five weeks we were going to be spending in California were truly a time of change for me and my faith - but oh, in such a good way! :)!

We planned to spend 8 nights in this beautiful home before moving to the suburbs for the rest of our California adventure. From here on out, the kids and I were going to begin a week of amazing adventures.


Fourth Stop: South Lake Tahoe

June 6, 2014 - 9:22 AM

Travel Log: 10 October 2011

This day was not about the stop, but completely about the journey.

Fourth Stop: South Lake Tahoe, California

This was going to be a SOLID 12 hour day of driving. Like the trek from IC to EP, we would be driving straight from Moab, Utah to South Lake Tahoe, California. That means driving 90% across Utah and 100% of Nevada, stopping just a few feet from the Nevada border in California. 

The drive across the middle of Utah and Nevada is the less traveled path with gas stations marked by the number of miles to the next, 100 miles the norm. However, the view of the drive, oh my, oh my. The morning sunrise drive across Utah was breathtaking, the rolling hills, the intermixing of the red sandstones and the navajo sandstones, the buttes and mesas jutting up here and there, and the green brush spattered throughout.

The four lane interstate through Utah abruptly takes a sharp turn to the south, refusing to go into Nevada. Turns out the two states had a big disagreement ages ago and Utah refused to make their interstate end in Nevada. Because of this, you have to continue west on the two lane Highway 50, the path of the original Lincoln Highway across America. 

While the Utah section of this road is not well maintained, you do get to drive past the Sevier Lake, a dry salty lake in western Utah. The white auora of the salt mixed with the haze of the sun and desert, created this moonlike glow in the horizon and we couldn't help but stop. The signs warn of a $500 fine for having to be towed out of the lake and you can see the tire tracks of donuts that were spun. Josh and the kids walked along the edges and had the odd experience of walking on something that isn't dry but it isn't wet, either.


(Photo credit because I can't access my photo database right now, eekk! But this accurately shows what Sevier Lake is like.)

Once in Nevada, the quality of the road of Highway 50 increases as the speed limit increases to 85mph. Prior to leaving IC, Josh had read up on this road and learned via Wikipedia that this 409 mile highway through Nevada was nicknamed "The Loneliest Road in America" by Life magazine in 1986. This is a completely accurate description. We also read up on the three towns and one tiny ghost town, each spaced about 100 miles apart. Stephen King had driven this Highway 50 and used the tiny ghost town of Ruth as inspiration for his book, Desperation. (Which my husband found appropriate to read when he wasn't driving, :)!)

The geography of Highway 50 through Nevada is something else. For 25 miles you drive on a flat, generally straight road, sometimes desert or plains, with nothing in sight, no cars, no houses, no wires, no signs, nothing. But off in the distance you can see a mountain range. And as you reel in the range, it isn't until you are right at its base that you are quickly shot zig-zagging up 2000-3000ft and then quickly brought back zig-zagging down again and you are driving on the flat incredibly straight road, sometimes desert or plains,... but off in the distance you can see the next of the total 17 mountain passes you will be quickly be thrust up and over.

The funny thing about Highway 50, though, was how different we felt while driving it. As we were well into the rhythm of flat plains to sharp mountain pass to flat plains again, I was slowly becoming more and more depressed and I could not wait to get off this ridiculous road. At the same time, my husband was becoming very introspective and thinking deep. meaningful thoughts about his life and loving every minute of it. 

US 50 from Josh Cramer on Vimeo.

(This video is of our return trip on US50, but I wanted you to experience it now.)

The part of the final leg of this journey does include what the state of Nevada has called "The Most Dangerous Highway in the State," the 50 mile portion of highway between Fallon and Dayton. However, after that and Carson City, it is a beautiful mountainous drive up to South Lake Tahoe, California.

Fourth day of driving: 12 hours, 728 miles

Our hotel was directly across the state line to Nevada, the neon casino lights were brighter than the ones in our hotel room. We threw together a hodge podge dinner with the scarce restaurants still open and went to bed, completely wiped, but once again thankful for another safe drive.

What we didn't know was that our dairy allergy child had got ahold of some dairy and tomorrow would prove to be a massive challenge of patience.


Third Stop: Moab Pause!

June 5, 2014 - 5:30 PM

Travel Log: 9 October 2011

Our extra day planned in Moab would be our gateway drug to this amazing part of Utah.

Third Stop: Pause in Moab.

At National Parks you can buy a National Park Pass that is good for a whole year and will get you into all the National Parks for free. (With a couple exceptions.) We knew we would be visiting other national parks in our trip and bought the year pass. Every year since, we have continued to buy the pass, have never regretted it, and definitely get our money's worth! 

Arches National Park is a short 2 mile drive north of Moab and, as the name implies, home to the beautiful arches you see on the Utah signs and license plates. We chose our first hike of the day to be the longer hike to Delicate Arch, the most famous arch. Being the morning in the desert in early October, we didn't know exactly what the weather would bring. We wore light coats and packed day packs with stocking hats and light gloves, shorts, ball caps, lots of water, and snack bars. Being this was the kids' first big hike in the desert, we didn't know what their attitudes would bring either.

I would love to tell you that all our children LOVE hiking as much as my husband and I do, but truth be told, 2/3 of our kids are not fans of hiking because a "normal" hike for our family is generally intense. The 2/3 will do it, but we have to find ways to entice or distract them along the way. This hike we enticed them with hunting for collared lizards and desert kangaroo rats and having awesome trail snacks.

The beginning of the Delicate Arch hike is a gradual, crushed gravel path that is fairly low rolling. Then, halfway to the arch you have to climb up a massive, steep, slickrock face. At this time, our children were shedding clothing and stopping painfully often. (I never thought we would make it to the top.) Once to the top of the slickrock, the hike becomes a trail more than a path, it is harder to follow, and has cairns leading the way. (The cairns served as a new distraction tool, "Who can find the next cairn first?!" See what I did there? :)!)

The last 200 yards of the hike are along a rock ledge about 3' wide. The ledge drops way down to the left and is a wall on your right. I had the kids walk with their hands on the wall in order to keep my heart in my chest. But my faster pace heart was blown away by the beauty at the summit. The view of Delicate Arch is amazing. The slickrock bowl you have to walk in to get to the arch is another heart beater, but completely worth it.  


The kids had made it the mile and a half to the summit but as we started the trip back some attitudes were starting to wane. We changed the subject to hunting lizards and spirits were revived! Parents FTW! We got off the main trail and out of sight and the kids hunted lizards atop this beautiful slickrock area for a solid hour. When it was time to finally make the trek down, everyone was ready and excitedly talking about the near catches they had.

lizard hunters

Then just as we were ending the hike a child called out, "A lizard! I can catch it!" And he did. And it bit him. And he was shocked. And he was embarrassed. And he quietly cried to himself. Poor guy.

We would continue this day in Arches with a hike to Sand Dune Arch and Landscape Arch. Landscape Arch, being our last hike of the day, after hiking 4 miles already, was like pulling teeth to get there, but knowing if they survived it, we'd have time to go to the massive sand hill. And they did it. And 1/3 of them liked it. :)!

In order to make certain we sucked all the marrow out of this absolutely beautiful day, we decided to put off dinner a little longer and drive up along Potash Road just in time to watch the sun set through the canyon. Potash Road continues along the Colorado River and goes west from the town of Moab. It is home to a famous climbing area called Wall Street, has lots of petrogylphs, actual dinosaur tracks, and countless hikes and canyons that shoot off from the river. 

Third Day: ? hours, 6 miles of hiking

By the time we returned to our hotel, it was way past bedtime. We ordered Thai take-out and everyone recounted the stories of our not-so-lazy but definitely peaceful-pause of a Sunday. From finally being able to laugh about the lizard bite to enjoying running up and down the 100' Sand Hill, everyone was in good spirits as they snarfed down pad Thai and curry. The day truly felt like an honest to goodness family vacation day.

To be honest, we hadn't really enjoyed time like that in the last year, just us 5, being ourselves, watching cartoons in the hotel, truly enjoying life together. For us as parents, all the "fun" moments we had during the last year were shrouded with the weight of all the other issues bearing down on us and our smiles were forced. For our kids, while they did not feel the weight like we were, they could see it in us. They knew. But this day, this day they could tell, they could tell it was not forced.


Second Stop: Moab

June 2, 2014 - 4:23 PM

Travel Log: 8 October 2011

Second Stop: Moab, Utah!

Ignorance is bliss isn't always a bad thing.

Take, for example, driving Peak to Peak Highway and I-70 during a snowstorm.

When we headed out at 10AM that Saturday morning with the snow gently falling, we weren't overly concerned, we were too enamored with the beauty of it all. Thankfully, my Minnesota-bred husband is great at driving in snow and naturally took driving the winding, snow covered highway of Peak to Peak with great skill. 

By the time we got to I-70, the snow had picked up. Everyone on the interstate was caught off guard by the first snowstorm of the season. The interstate was covered in snow, the plows had not arrived yet, no lines were visible on the concrete, trucks were over-crowding the chain stations, and while some cars sought to take refuge at the over crowded chain stations, other cars, like us, tried to keep moving, some better than others. 

Inch by inch we moved and it seemed like all the cars around us were participating in a slow motion ice dance over and down the mountain. I would think you would be able to YouTube a video of "The Blue Danube Waltz" being played as cars did this dance. You know, they slide to the left, spin to the right, trucks taking baby steps forward while others rush the audience. If you found that then you could share in our experience driving over the pass that day. Well, maybe it was more like Elaine's dancing over and down the mountain but still, you get the picture. :)!

All in all, it took us twice as long to get to Vail for our lunch stop, but we were all incredibly thankful for our safe passage there considering all we had just seen. By the time we were back on the road, we experienced the awesomeness that is snow melt in Colorado. The snow was already melting on the roads,  the clouds had passed, and the sun was beautifully shining. From then on, the driving conditions were completely normal, like it had never even snowed.

Driving down the west side of the Rockies was the beginning of all new experiences for me until we reached San Francisco. The terrain of the west side of the Rockies is incredibly different than the east. All of us were once again in awe of our surroundings as red rock walls replaced the gray rock walls of the east side. Then there was the winding roads, the tunnels for holding your breath (driver not included), and the beautiful rushing Colorado River... amazing. We finally felt empited out of the mountains when we came upon the beautiful sandstone Book Cliffs by Grand Junction. 


Our EP friends told us about the "back road" to Moab through Cisco and how even though it is a tiny bit longer, you will not be sorry. Wo/man, were we glad we took their advice! The back road, i.e. Highway 128, continues to take you right along the Colorado River. It twists and turns, as rock formations begin cropping up on all sides, antelope are jumping across the plains, and tall towers of red entrada sandstone show up seemingly out of nowhere. It was hard to tell if the red canyon walls were growing taller or if we were shrinking lower as we made our final approach. We were racing a magnificent sunset, but were not fast enough and it was the canyon's turn to empty us into a now dark town of Moab.


Second day of driving: 10 hours, 394 miles

(Yes, it should have been 6.5 hours without the snowstorm.)

We made it to our hotel, ordered delicious Paradox Pizza and PBRs, and settled in for our two night stay in Moab. 

Wait... Pizza and a dairy allergy? Yep. By now, we were a year into living with a dairy allergy and knew some questions to ask to make certain the pizza we order has no dairy - besides asking for no cheese. Most crusts are dairy free, though you need to ask them if they put butter on the crust for baking. Most sauces are dairy free, though you need to make sure they don't put grated parmesan in their sauce. Most toppings are dairy free, though some Italian meatballs/sausages have cheese added or milk as a binder. But, it is totally easy otherwise... until you don't ask.

As we went to bed that first night in Moab, I was once again overwhelmed with thankfulness. Thankful for another safe trip, thankful for the amazing beauty we got to experience, thankful for the gift of my family... but I was most thankful for a pause in the intense insanity of the previous year. The snowstorm was truly nothing in the grand scheme, (we weren't being blissfully ignorant after all, :)!). We were given a beautiful gift during our travel days to spend time focusing on our hearts, our relationships, without all of the insanity distracting us. 



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About Me and This Blog...

Begin Our Adventures of Fall/Winter 2012 to CA, MN, CO
   Ladies Trip to Napa Valley
   My Parents Rode in a Plane!

Begin Our Adventures of Summer 2012 to MN and CO
   Vacation to the North Shore and Cabin
   Boulder for the Summer
   Life in Boulder

Begin Our Adventures of Winter/Spring 2012 to UT
   The Drive to CO/UT Begins
   Vacation in Moab
   Living in Moab / Denver

Begin Our Adventures of Fall/Winter 2011 to CA
   The Drive to CA Begins
   Living in the SF
   Living in the Suburbs
   Coming Home to IC

Begin Our Adventures of Summer 2010 to Eastern Europe
   Life at Czech English Camp
   Travels in Germany & Austria
   Travels in Czech & Poland


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