Sunday, March 18, 2012

2012 Ski Trip - 2nd Day @ Pagosa

Day 2 at House
Due to our hard time the previous day, we were all in agreement that we would take the 2nd day off of skiing and just play outside at the house.  Very nice & relaxing.  We found sleds in the garage.

Kids starting their snow fort

Kids Sledding in back yard
Jazz working on her & Kassidy's cave/fort

Kassidy playing in snow

Tyler & our snowman, Frosty.  Hey I didn't name him.

Kassidy & her out!

2012 Ski Trip - First Day Skiing

This following is long, but lots of stuff happened on this day.....

It's our first day skiing, and we were super stoked to get on the mountain!  We all woke up early, got our gear on & realized we lost an hour due to daylight savings time, oh no, we are running late!  The girls had to get to their ski class at a certain time. Go, Go, Go.

We rushed to get in the car and make the 45min drive to the mountain.  The ski shop was  a zoo (bigger & crazier than the one I personally manage ;) ) so it took about an hour to get our party of 7 fitted with ski's and boots, then we shipped the girls to their ski class & started our trek to the bunny slope to make a few runs & get our ski legs about us. :)  Michael, Tyler & Micah did a run while Gavin & I waited & Gavin practiced walking in his skis.

Gavin ready to Ski with Daddy!
Once Michael skied the bunny slope twice he was ready for Gavin to ride with him & ski for the first time.  It went ok, except Michael had to keep Gavin between his knees, so that was hard.  I skied with MJ & after 2 runs on the bunny slope my head was pounding & I was ready for lunch.  The girls were still in ski school & Tyler & MJ skied the Bunny Slope while Gavin, Michael & I went to retrieve our lunch & try to find a place to eat it.  We ended up eating it on some benches by the ski rental.  Tyler & Micah joined us & the girls called Michael from the bunny slope to say they were out of ski school & stuck on the mountain because Kassidy fell & couldn't get up.  He took off to rescue them.  He came back with them so they could eat their lunch.  Kassidy looked exhausted.  Skiing in general is very hard and cumbersome because you have to maneuver these big chunky boots on slippery snow & your dressed like a marshmallow, then once you have your skis on they are long & hard to maneuver.  It takes alot out of you physically.  It also takes a long time to do anything like getting your lunch or going to the bathroom, or getting from point A to point B really, nothing is a quick event.

So, Tyler & Micah finished their lunch of PB & J & chips and then off they went to ski.  Gavin was tired & actually sat next to me & fell asleep in my lap, my head hurt really bad, so I offered to take him to the car and let him sleep while everyone else skied. 

Little did I realize how far the car was and that I would be carrying him dead asleep in the snow with my snow boots.  I started off and all was fine.  I could do this.  5 min in & 15 steps away from where I started, I realized how far we actually parked from the ski rental shop & and that the whole trek was uphill!  I was going to have to psych myself out to make it to the car.  My arms were already starting to feel weak & shaky.  "I have to make it to the car" my inner self was saying.  "As soon as I make it to the car I can put this heavy kid down & my pounding head will get relief"  I passed a few people...I tried to stop making the grimacing face as I passed, it must have worked because regardless of how much I appeared to be struggling, no one offered to help me.  I FINALLY made it to the car and after some struggling to juggle holding Gavin and unzip my ski jacket pocket with a ski glove (or glub as Gavin called it), I fished out the car key... I got the car unlocked and hurled the 40 lb sack of potatoes to the seat.  He didn't even stir...he was totally asleep.  Then I waddled to the front seat & turned on the air and reclined my seat & fell asleep. 

An hour later I was awoken from my slumber when my phone started ringing.  It was the girls.  They were tired,exhausted & sick.  They wanted to quite for the day. They didn't know where the boys were. I told them to turn their ski rentals into the ski shop, get their regular ski shoes & come to the car.  I was very sick & unable to help them in any way.  They must have really been done, because about 30 min later they showed up at the car, begging to be let in.

10 min after that, I get another phone call.  Michael is sitting at the base of the mountain with Micah.  They both are very sick & he needs help getting Micah's ski's to the shop & Micah to the car. Micah couldn't move. Seriously?  Everybody is super sick....hmmm, we must all have altitude sickness.  Happens usually the first day or two when we go skiing, but it never is this bad & usually doesn't affect everyone at once. By now, Gavin has awoken from his nap & doesn't want me to leave the car without him.  There is no way we can make the trek to the base of the mountain & back with my head pounding like this.  I take the chance that we will find a closer parking spot & move the car.  YES!  I found one alot closer, so I parked & Gavin & I go to rescue Michael & Micah.  No one knows where Tyler is.  I find Michael & Micah and start taking boots & ski's to the rental shop.  Finally get ahold of Tyler & he helps me get everyone's gear back to the ski shop.  Michael takes Micah to the car.  Micah pukes twice on the way back to the car.  We all get in the car and can't wait to get back to the rental house, 45min away down a winding mountain.  Ughhh.  Micah puked one time in the car on the way home.  Poor guy, he got the sickness worse than anyone else.  We finally made it back to our rental house where everyone crashed exhausted & sick from the first day of skiing.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

2012 Ski Trip - Driving Day 2

Still  wanting to hear more?  Day 2 details ahead.

Day 2

After a hearty breakfast in the hotel, we loaded back into the car for our last 10 hours of the car ride to our destination.  We saw some cool cars next to the hotel.
Really cool old car parked next to our hotel

About 20 min into our trip we noticed Windmills.  The kind that we saw in 2010 and spent an hour trying to get close enough to, to capture a cool picture... but could never reach them.  Michael is fascinated with these things, so we said we would spend a few min trying to see how close we could get.  We went down a dirt road and came across some workers who told us where to go to get the closest possible.  We even found a blade on the ground, they were HUGE!  Took 30 min out of our trip & got to check something off Michael's bucket list...the kids thought it was really cool too!
One Blade on Ground, that's Michael way in the background standing next to it
Here is the closest we could get, as tall as a building downtown!

Moving on, we eventually passed the Texas state line and arrived in New Mexico!  Woo Hoo.  That got the kids excited, they thought we would never get out of Texas.

We also found a really cool gas station soon after that had a car museum in it.  No pics there though.  Kids got some souvenirs there.

A few hours later everyone was getting grumpy and tired so we decided to stop for lunch in Santa Fe.  We stopped at a park.  Kids got to play.  It was very cold & windy.   
The kids stretching their legs a bit!
Gavin playing in the sand in Santa Fe.
 After that break we were determined to make it to CO.  We finally crossed the state line.....

Another hour & we finally arrived in Pagosa Springs, Our destination!  Here's some pics of the awesome  house.

House from corner of yard
Side of house, porch
Look at our View!

Amazing view of the mountains from our house!

Didn't get enough time lapse video from our first day's drive?  Here's the 2nd day & Michael's added a soundtrack to both days. Woo Hoo!

Monday, March 12, 2012

2012 Ski Trip - Driving Day 1

Interested in how the ski trip is going?  What to hear the boring details from begining to end?  Ok, you asked for it!

After 4 hours of sleep we woke up Fri morning and loaded the expedition for the 17plus hour adventure to Pagosa Springs, CO.   Plan was to leave at 6am, somehow we pulled out of the driveway (for the 2nd time) at 8:30am. 

The Smith Kiddos plus Kassidy (Jazz's bff) packed in & ready to ride!
Incase you haven't heard, I am very interested in committing to a zero waste lifestyle.  I am changing things in our lives slowly, but surely to less waste...becoming more aware of the waste my large family contributes to the world.  I thought it would be an awesome challenge to try to make the road trip as zero waste as possible.

The closer I came to the date we left the harder I realized it would actually be.  There are a few things though that turned out to be less waste & saved money and I liked it alot.  Some things weren't practical for our trip however, especially since I am such a newbie about it.  More posts about zero waste to come!

Now back to the begining of our road trip.  The first few hours were pretty boring.  Not very eventful.  We were all trying to adjust to the less waste challenge.  Less waste meant we all brought our own cups to drink out of and only refilled them when we stopped for potty breaks or gas.  We also brought little plastic cups to eat our trail mix out of.  It worked great!  We stopped at our first potty break ~ everyone wanted snacks, but I convinced them it was against our challenge, so they didn't fight much.  On the road again.....

Trucking along uneventful, until we pasted Dallas and then Childress and Gavin started saying he felt sick....yikes!  The last long road trip we took, he got sick in this exact same area of the drive & threw up,  so we knew to take it serious. 1 min later he spewed..... 

Poor Gavin!  Sick on the road trip....Again!
 So, we pulled over & began the process of clean up.  It was freezing outside & he had throwup everywhere.  We actually tossed around the idea of just leaving the grossed out carseat on the side of the road, but that would not go with the zero waste challenge, nor our budget ski trip, so Michael took on the task of cleaning it.  I cleaned up Gavin.  Thank goodness for the gallon of water I brought & the 3 rolls of paper towels I decided to bring for an emergency!  Also, thank goodness Michael brought 2 towels, they came in handy for the cleanup.

On the road again and all was well.  Gavin fell asleep along w/ the rest of the yahoo's.  Then about an hour before we reached our destination....Gavin started saying he was sick again. We learned our lesson and literally pulled over right then on the freeway.  Gavin got out and a train was passing by.  The conductor blew his horn at us and waved and Gavin loved it.  He walked around a bit and felt better & we loaded up to get straight to our hotel in Amarillo.
Conductor waved at Gavin!

After the long 12 hour car ride to Amarillo, we were exhausted.  We had a few zero waste slip ups one being the Wendy's we ate for dinner.  I didn't care, we were tired & had participated in less waste very good all day, except when Michael went into the gas station to get another gallon of water & snuck Skittles back into the car.  RULE BREAKER!  Anyways, after driving through Wendy's we arrived at the hotel.

Our hotel in Amarillo

We got checked into our room & settled. Micah was the only one who wanted to swim in the indoor pool, the girls were tired, & Gavin said there were sharks.  So Micah and I tossed the laundry in washing machine on site & I watched him from the hot tub while he swam.  Then back upstairs to clean up and sleep before next days adventures.
Wanna see our whole first day's drive?  My techno smarty pants hubby converted his phone into a dashcam and got time lapse video of the whole drive.  That's right, you read it correctly & if you know Michael, really are you the least bit suprised?  Its pretty cool, and you an see when we made some stops, the clouds rolling by & even when we pulled over for Gavin's sick moment.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

2010 Road Trip

(As originally written by Michael)

The Plan...

...was to blog each day on our trip, but because we had the kiddos, unforseen things, and just because we got back to the hotel each day very late, we just could not post... not even once. There were a few times where we started an email, but ended up closing up the laptop and called it a day. So, unfortunately we are now posting way after the fact.

The Burban was a big rolling fully electronic turd. I had the inverter plugged in, so we had cell phone chargers, Nintendo DS'es, Laptop, and a whole slew of electronics running and charging. The Burban has a navigation system, so it came in more handy than any other tool we took with us. We also installed Microsoft Streets and Trips 2010 on our laptop, and Alicia's swore by it the entire trip... its basically a very detailed map of the U.S., along with just about every single point of interest, hotels, restaraunt, sites, etc. We always knew what there was going to be ahead of us.

Overall, we had a good time but at times we were at each others throats due to the amount of time we had to share such small living quarters... the big ole Burban! Wasn't that big however. The worst part about the whole trip, was the worrying about Gavin. We were so worried about him and how he was the only one who really couldn't move around, all strapped in and the only thing he could do was cry. Eventually, he learned it was of no use to cry and that this will be his sitting position for a very long time to come.

Our biggest debate was what day we would leave. I took a week and a half off, Alicia the same, but because it was during Spring Break, we wanted to get a head start before the SB'ers. Because we wanted to be in Angel Fire before it go crowded, we couldn't decide if we should leave the Tuesday night, or Wednesday morning. Gonna be a long drive.

The itinerary wasn't too detailed, because we didn't want to plan every single thing we were going to do. Basically, we picked out the most interesting places we wanted to see, plotted it on a map, and everything else was planned on the road. And here was the initial list:

24th : head out
24th : reach Carlsbad Caverns. Stay for one 1 1/2 hour tour. Then head out.
24th : reach Angel Fire, NM late
25th : Ski
26th : Ski
27th : Leave Angel Fire, head towards Grand Canyon
27th : Stop by Petrified Forest
27th : Stop by Red Rock Park
28th : Grand Canyon
29th : Drive through Las Vegas, head towards Sequoia's
30th : Visit Sequoia's
30th : Visit Julianne (Alicia's sis)
30th : head towards Universal Studios'
31th : Universal Studios, stay the day
32nd : LegoLand, stay the day

Ultimate destination were the Sequoia's. We've been telling the kids we were going to go since they were little.

Tuesday March 09, 2010

Tyler had Choir Rehersal and because they wouldn't let out until 7pm, we decided not to leave this night. Instead, we packed up, put all luggage in this Roof Carrier thing that we had riding up on top of our roof the whole trip (which bascially tells everyone else that we were on vacation so go ahead and passed them up)... and decided to take it down because of some punk kids walking around. We took it down, and put it by the front door... and went to bed.

Wednesday March 10, 2010

I forget what time we got up, but it was early enough to pack up, get the roof carrier mounted up on the Burban's rooftop, load it up with our suitcases and ski gear, load up everything else on the inside, get all the Nintendo DS'es and chargers going, camera's, laptop, load up the kids and got them situated... and it was no longer early morning time. We left a little later than we wanted. We left the house, drove about 4 miles down the road, consulted our GPS, and decided that there was no way we were going to make Carlsbad Caverns and get to Angel Fire by the time we planned on. We decided to hit the Caverns on our way back from California instead, and went up i-45 to go straight to Angel Fire instead of the planned i-10 trip out.

Everyone was excited and was having a great time! A few hours into the drive and because I think I have alzheimers, I dont remember where exactly we were. I think it was a bit before Forth Worth, but out of the Blue Gavin threw up. It wasn't one of those small hiccup types, it was an all out Vomit fest! I pulled over, Alicia immediately checked him out and it was everywhere... all over the seat, carseat, clothes, hair, and on his little Blankie! And these pics are of us at our little stop with that big ole thing up on top! Got tired of looking at that real quick.

While we were there, Micah found a turtle! Check that out, actually found something that Micah enjoyed at a rest stop. Awesome. That was cool, but not that cool once we tried to leave. It took a long time trying to convince him that we couldn't take him.. was too dirty, was going to poop in the car, could get salmonella... and he eventually gave it with even crying. He was leaving his best friend.

This stop was an important one. It was important because it showed me that this trip would be full of surprises, full of laughter and stupidity, and definately full of adventure. Now check out that picture above. The one where Tyler and Micah are sitting at the back of the Burban. While I was taking that pic, I saw something on the right side and in the background. I also noticed there was a bad stinch in the air. But I didn't realize what it was until I decided to take Gavin around walking. So I took Micah and Gavin around walking to investigate.

Well as we started walking around, the stinch got worse and worse. So bad in fact, that I thought I was going to run into a dead body. I did!

We were done with that stop! Everyone loaded back up, I got on top of the roof to snap shut the big eyesore of a cargo carrier, and the 2 fronts straps broke!  I couldn't believe it.  I saw this big bag of our stuff just rolling off the roof and into the road with all our underwear stuck to other drivers windshields.  I rigged it up to where it wouldn't go anywhere, but in doing this, we weren't able to get back in it.  Gavin got a new outfit, and we headed off all happy again. And it still stunk like vomit on the inside. Go Gav!

At this point we drove all throughout the day and several times I could of kicked myself for not going to Carlsbad Caverns. I have been wanting to visit it for a long time.. but it wouldn't be today.

Alicia was the designated photographer, so hopefully she took some good photos on the way up there. Here is one of my fav's. It was a lovely green pature, cows crazing... what a shot. Now if it weren't because of the slight tilt of the camera, I think it would of been a great shot.

Our stuffed potato riding in the back seat. Poor guy. If he cries, feed him. If he poops, wipe it and feed him more. Food was the key for the poor guy.
Note to self: (Turn off the date stamp.  It was off, now its back on for the rest of the trip)
We FINALLY got to Angel Fire around 11:30pm!!!! It wasn't that bad at all. Kids were asleep, we were wide awake, and the small winding roads to the top of the mountain kept us alert. Driving up the mountain was really cool.. the Photographer refused to take video of the beautiful, snow clad winding roads of Angel fire.  So I had to take the video myself, while driving.  But... we made it!  Here is a pic of the kids when we got to the hotel to check in.

Overall, the first day of driving was great, everyone was excited, and only the ladder part of scenic.

Thursday March 11, 2010 / Friday March 12, 2010

We stayed at the Angel Fire Resort Hotel, and although it wasn't a condo and just a hotel room, it was HUGE! Biggest hotel room you will ever find. When booking the hotel to go ski with lift tickets, its the best deal out there.

I was a little worried that the snow might not be that nice seeing how it was late in the ski season, but it wasn't.. in the least. They got 4' of snow in the past week or two, and when we go there, everything was covered. First day it snowed, second day was clear. Perfect!

We had a great time in Angel Fire. We skied 2 other times up there, years ago and it was nice to visit it once again. The first time we skied was with Janet and Jewels, the second time was with Luis and Adrian. Hmmm.. that had a good ring to it. Oh well...

We put Gavin in Day Care the first day, half day on Friday. First day we all skied and everyone did very well. I was confident, Micah and Alicia did well, and Tyler and Jazz absolutely tore it up. I was so impressed with Tyler and how fearless he was, that I kept repeating how impressed I was. I rate how someone ski's with Seth's ability (you know, Misty and Seth) and Seth had nothing on Tyler this time around! I couldn't believe it.  Kinda intimidated me.  The last couple of times we ski'ed he had a big problem with his confidence, not sure what was up but this year all was forgotten and he was doing jumps, skiing through the trees, and being crazy. If we stayed there any longer, I would have made him wear a helmet. He didn't take it medicine for the 2 days... so maybe that was it.

Jazzy was just as fearless, hitting several "blues" (more advances trails) and I was proud of her just as well.

Micah was doing great, I taught him how to stop, pizza wedge it, and if all else fails, just fall. He perfected how to fall with grace and was gaining more and more confidence until Mom decided to lead him down a relatively steep hill and when he started going too fast, Mom thought the best way to stop him was to grab him... how? no idea, but apparently she thought the best way was to stop him while they were both racing down the hill... but they both crashed hard both banging their heads on the ground. Micah only skied the one day. It wasn't funny, but afterwards Tyler and I were replaying the video on slow motion laughing each time we watched it. But it wasn't funny.

And any idea what this boy is doing (below pic)? And of course, the boy belongs to me. I believe he was making yellow snow.

Other pics.

Tyler busted his knee really bad here. I had to document it, so while he was in pain, I snapped a pic.

They were probably fighting all the way up.

Gavin was really sick again. Puking every 30 minutes or so. Carpet, bed, hair...

Aweeee... cute and peaceful. Always the case after a good spanking.

Saturday March 13, 2010

Now that skiing was done, we were off to the Grand Canyon. Because of the ridiculous rates on hotels in the area, we decided to stay about 80 miles out, or about an hour and a half, away in a small town in Flagstaff, AZ. Both Alicia and I have decided this is without a doubt the nicest, friendliest, and most scenic town of the entire trip. So much so, Alicia is wanting to specifically take another trip back to visit just this one little town. You can even ski at the Snowbowl resort. The base was at around 9200' I think, which is a bit higher than Angel Fire. We didn't ski here, just noticing the different things you could do.

You would never think a place like this would exist in Arizona. When I hear Arizona, I think desert. This is not the case with Flagstaff. Now of course, I can rely on my designated Picture taker to take some great photos of this . I do have to get on her every now and then "Check that out... awesome, get a pic babe". These pics are on the way to Flagstaff.

Only way to pacify Gavin.

Whats up with that yellow sign? It was right in the middle of a busy commercialized intersection. Does this mean that there was heaving traffic of deaf people in this area much like a school zone of kids?



 After driving a bit towards the Grand Canyon, there were 2 more quick stops along the way.
One was the Red Rock Park, and the other was the Petrified Forest.

We came to the Red Rock Park first.  The rocks are amazing!  Out in the middle of nowhere, there are these huge Red Rocks, cliffs, ledges, etc.  They were awesome, and could even be hiked.

We all stopped and and everyone was excited because we were finally able to stretch our legs and get some air.  When I say air, I mean lots of it.  The wind had to have been blow a steady 30 miles per hour.

After everyone played around a bit and got the blood pumping, I thought it would be nice to take a family picture, one closeup and another wide angle to get the gist of how large these things were.

Here is one of a whole horizon of these Rocks. 

Gathering up the kids to take the pic.  

Gavin just darts off...  

Wrangled him up finally.

And there he goes again.

Everyone has given up now. Micah, you still wearing your ski boots?

 There he is and his big head heading towards the camera.

And Finally, the family shot I was waiting for!

Misc. Pics.

And that was that.  Very nice place, but I was a bit disappointed.  Actually, very disappointed.  I love natural places like these.  But there was a huge RV camping area built right into the area, between the rocks, and it seemed to have trashed it out.  On the other side of the rocks, like right on the other side of that rock above, was a big penny Casino.  At the park, it was deserted along with its trashy run down picnic area.  Noone was there.  But... at the Casino, it was thriving with the whole Griswald family and their RV's!

Lets get.

We left.


After leaving Red Rock Park, our next stop was the Petrified forest.  Unfortunately, we were so close in getting there before dark, but couldn't quite make it.  30 minutes would have made the difference in the world.

So we kept driving, and looking to our right when we passed by the Petrified Forest.

Passing the Arizona State line.

We finally made it to our destination late Saturday to Flagstaff, Arizona and man it was nice.  We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express, and man it was nice.  Matter of fact, for the rest of the trip, it was all Holiday Inn Expresses. We got the room with 2 queens, and one pull out couch, so the room was really large which we needed.  We tried unpacking our stuff from the big Cargo Carrier on top of the Burban, but it was SUCH A PAIN!!!!!  If ever you decide to buy one, made sure you get the hard case one and on the Vinyl one.  Or, better yet, just dont have kids!  From this point on, instead of getting into the Carrier, we just kep a change of clothes in our "Day Bags", and washed the clothes at each Hotel stop we got to.  The system worked out Great!

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