Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Moab - Finally all together

I've been to Moab lots, and so has Anna...even Amelia and I have been recently but Daphne had never been and we as a family hadn't been; that has since changed.

Because the girls are too young for school my policy has been to work Memorial day and vacation then next weekend.  It works out great and from what I hear, we wouldn't have even been able to do it over memorial day because of the crowds.  Getting it all together was a bit of a challenge because:

a. It always is.
b. Anna and I have had crazy weeks.

But we did it and Friday morning we were off.  Originally we were planning on "dry" camping off Willow Springs Road without any kind of facility support but decided that pit toilets were preferable to trailer toilets (in theory) and the fact that the Archview campground no longer has water to fill the tanks we took our chances with Moab's prettiest busiest campground - Sandflats recreation area.

Lucky for us we got a great site.

Friday was all about setting up and letting the girls stretch their legs.  Amelia is a pretty good car companion, but Daphne has the patience of a flea and she was aching to be "Ooow" [Out].

They were pretty happy to be out of the car and playing.

We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows that evening and hoped for the best for sleep.  Daphne has a history of not sleeping anywhere well, especially camping.  She did...not great but we got some sleep.

The next day was arches, we actually had TONS of things we wanted to do but we figured Arches NP would be the one we could spend some time at and see different things.  Did you know that if you have a bladder infection that it REALLY hurts to hold it in?  I do know.  Poor Amelia told us before we left that she had some problems going but its not too uncommon for her and we didn't think much of it, until we are waiting 20 cars back to get into arches and the poor thing is balling her eyes out cause she has to go so bad.  We found out when we got home that it is indeed a bladder infection and she is doing much better on antibiotics.  After unwinding from the trauma of the car in the visitors center, we decide to try out a new hike for Anna and me called Sand Dune Arch.  It is towards the end of the park road and really short.

It turned out to be a perfect choice.

Its basically a tiny, short trail between 2 fins that have birthed a deep, soft fine sand dune with nice, cool, shady parts to play in.

The girls had a very nice time and Amelia took some great pictures with her camera.

This is the sand.

After that we had a nice little lunch and we decided to try to visit a less populated part of the park that requires 4wd.  Amelia and I drove this road (creatively name "4WD Road" by the park) when we did our big adventure last year but she was asleep when we passed Eye of the Whale arch and so we didn't stop to see it.  It was a good choice.

It is a very short walk to the arch itself and a really neat little arch.  We got to play in the pond and see all the wildlife that we had learned about in the visitors center...the pond life section was Daphne's favorite.  We saw shrimp and tadpoles and those weird looking mini horseshoe crab deals and everything.

Here is the view from inside the eye of the whale to the other side.

Back in the car the girls were pretty much spent.  They didn't sleep well and haven't had naps.  Time to get back to camp.  The original plan was to drive to Bull Canyon to see the bottom of Gemini Bridges or to check out Kens lake, but I think some down time is in order.

Amelia and Daphne took the down time to play with dolls, and take lots of pictures

Having a trailer with big beds and lots of room to move around sure is nice.

Then we all worked together to make some dutch oven pizza from scratch.  One of the easiest and tastiest DO meals ever.  Here are the girls making sure the toppings are safe to eat.

20 minutes on the coals yields a perfectly cooked pizza with a lovely brick over taste.  BTW, the coleman dutch over liners are them.  You just pull out the liner and voila!  The dishes are done.

What a day.  Time to relax and watch the show.  Hoping that Daphne AND Amelia get some sleep tonight.

They don't.  Well, its better, but I spent the night with Amelia on her bed and Daphne spent the night with Anna on her bed.  We were so tired though that getting up to deal with them isn't too bad because we can plop right back to sleep.  Its not a good nights sleep, but its better.

The next morning is the sadness of packing up to go home.  I think we are all ready for our own beds, but we are going to miss it here.  The good news is that its only 3 short hours away.

On our way out we decide to drop the trailer off in a parking lot off 191 to explore Tusher Tunnel, a short 5 mile drive off the highway to a cleft in the rock that goes all the way through.

The cool temps (65 inside the tunnel, 90 out) and soft sand are just perfect to stoke the girls fire and we went through the tunnel at least 4 times.

After that I popped out the awning and we had a hot, grumpy lunch.  To be fair it was a very tasty lunch, but these were some tired girls and Amelia was really not feeling great.  Time to get home.

The ride home was pretty uneventful, we stopped in Price for a caffeine break for Daddy and and ice cream for the girls

And then got to the business of getting home to clean up and get back to life.  Anna was worried that I didn't like the trip, probably because I looked to tired, but I did.  I loved it and despite the problems I would do it again in a heartbeat.  The faces of these girls as they find a lizard, or played in the sand, or just had fun jumping on the beds was more than enough motivation for me.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Ahoy Ahoy

Honey treated all of us to a Disney Cruise for Christmas!!!!!  It was a blast and Millie is already packing for our next cruise!  We started off on a rough note - Millie got a terrible cough and a fever the day before we left.  Then, we took the red eye into Orlando and hired a bus driver to drive us four hours to Miami.  Never again, why you ask - well, about 45 minutes into our drive, our bus got pulled over.  It was being painted so the police man coudn't see any numbers on it.  Who knows, it might not have even had a license plate on it, we were all so groggy from our red eye and quite frankly, we didn't give it a second thought, we just hopped on the bus.  Well, to complicate the matter, our driver didn't even have a CDL so we had to wait 2 hours or so for someone to come to our rescue!  I like to think of it as awesome, funny memories (really, that is what we are all going to remember) and we made it to the ship on time (the most important thing).  I learned a lot when Pat and I took our Honeymoon to Norway and didn't have a luggage for 5 days, couldn't figure out how to get money from the ATMs and then later got stranded in a town that only accepted Norwegian cards and we had no cash so we had to take a 3 mile jog to the nearest American ATM!  It all makes for the best memories so, might as well make the most of it!  

I love this shot of Millie right before we took off.  Her cheeks are sooo rosy from her fever and she is so tired, but you can tell she's excited.

We finally made it and Millie was running like crazy to get on the ship.

I was so excited about this cruise, probably more than Millie and way more than Pat.  I made magnets for our door, spent a long time on our pirate costumes and packed Millie a backpack full of fun.  When we got to our rooms, the first thing we did was change into our swimsuits (which we stowed in our carry-ons) and Millie played in our porthole (huge right also, the bathrooms are really big too!).  Pat told her to do a pose and this is what we got!

Then we ran to the buffet before it closed to get a quick lunch.  

There was a bon voyage party as we set sail but Millie just wanted to play int he pool and Pat's not big on those kind of things.  Millie got a little wand with red tinsel on it that she cherished.  She liked it so much that our stateroom attendant brought her one (or three) everyday!  Millie played in the Mickey pool and LOVED it.  I'm pretty sure that was her favorite thing.  She went to the kids club a little bit though-out the cruise but she didn't love it.  I didn't mind.  I wanted to spend time with her and have fun on our family vacation and if she didn't want to go to kids club it wasn't worth it for me to feel bad forcing her in there. 

Here she is in our porthole again with her wand.  She gets her red lips from Pat - lucky girl!

 We got to see quite a few princesses.  Millie got really shy around them but I'm pretty sure she was jumping up and down with excitement on the inside!

She was sooo incredibly shy around Anna and Elsa.  The day before we watched Big Hero 6 in the theater on board and there was a part that she (and I too, not gonna lie) thought was hilarious.  Pat did it and she started cracking up so we got half smiles for these pics.

One of the few times Millie was in the kids club Pat and I explored the ship a bit with Ben and Whitney and family.  We saw lots of flying fish - no other sea life.  I'm guessing the waters were just too rough.

 And here's Pirate Night.  Every Disney cruise has a Pirate Night and I have been looking forward to this for quite some time.  I made a pirate tutu for Millie and put together costumes for Pat and I.  Unfortunately, these are the only pics we have because Millie was still feeling sick and she fell asleep during the show and didn't wake up until the next morning.  After the show, we took her back to the room and Pat stayed with her so I could see the fireworks.  (Pretty fun dance party, I would have loved to dance with Miss Millie but oh well).  After the fireworks, I grabbed the most delicious pretzels EVER (seriously, cinnamon and sugar with cream cheese in the center) and went back to the room so that Pat could join his family for a special pirate dinner.

Here's Millie really enjoying the Magician/comedy show.

 Here's Millie, still enjoying the show but starting to zone out)

Our first port of call was Grand Cayman.  We chartered a boat to take us to Stingray City, a snorkeling place and Starfish Point.  It was quite fun.  Looking back, I would maybe just skip the snorkeling (but the seas were really rough, maybe if it was calmer it would have been better) and go straight to Starfish Point and the beach there.  I like the beach and Millie and the other kids liked playing in the sand.

Here's the whole family on our tender to shore.

Pat sitting with his beautiful Mom

Millie was a little bit nervous in the ocean but she really like touching the stingrays.  For the adults, we even got a little back rub from them!

The backrub may or may not have alarmed Ben!

Pat, looking at home on the boat (Pat has a dream to own a yacht and sail to different places for vacations......I feel okay with this dream)
 Our little girl woke up this morning a new person - she was happy, lots of energy and no fever!!!!  Hizah!

Oh they had fun here, wish we could have stayed longer but it started to rain pour.

Sadly, this is one of the only family pics we got.  At least it's a pretty good one!

Yay!  By the third night we got to eat in the dining room with the rest of the family - and such a cute restaurant called the Animator's Palette.   Everything is black and white and at the end of dinner the pictures on the wall come alive.  Millie really liked her strawberry shortcake.

Well, we made it through dinner.  And then she was a goner!

Here's our pic on formal night with Mickey Mouse.  I'm putting it in because it's our only one with Mickey but it's totally blurry.  Pat said he might be able to fix it.

We usually had to wait for quite some time in between the show and dinner and we found the best thing to do was go up to deck 9 and get Millie an ice cream cone and a couple oranges.  That kept her occupied.  Ben and Whitney and kids came to join us and Samantha, Millie's sweet older cousin was quick to help entertain.

 Formal night dinner was in Parrot Cafe.  MMM, such good banana bread.

 Millie and Daddy one day at lunch.  Millie and I had our fill on hot chocolate.  She would get out of the pool, jump in a hot tub and then head straight for the hot chocolate machines!

 Yet another pic of Millie sleeping.  This was on the ship on our day when we were supposed to be in Castaway Cay.  Unfortunately, due to the snowstorm that hit the northeast, we couldn't get to the Disney Island because the winds were too strong.  A bit of a bummer - we've since learned that Castaway Cay is the major attraction on the cruise.  It was supposed to be our fun, hang out on the beach day but another day at sea was what we got.  The crew members made it fun and exciting though.  Can't you tell how exciting it was?!
Here she is when we had to rouse her from her nap for a picture of the cousins.  She was not too pleased, even when I bribed her with candy from the gift shop.

And here are all of Millie's cute cousins minus Daphne, Duncan and Charlie.  Pretty fun group.

 We gave Joanne a "Golden Mickey" to thank her for this awesome experience. 

The trip home was another long day but at least we made it back to the airport without being pulled over!  While we waited to board I played Go Fish with the kids.  

Such a fun trip, THANK YOU Honey for an amazing vacation we will remember forever!

And another big thanks to my Mom and Dad for taking care of Daphne so we could play!