Saturday, August 28, 2010

Too Close For Comfort!

It was a typical Florida thunderstorm. Pouring rain, bright lightning, crashing thunder. The power had been flickering periodically. Roger was outside working on the lawnmower under the covered carport. I was washing up dishes in the kitchen sink and looking out the window towards the carport. All of a sudden, this HUGE bolt of lightning struck outside the window just beside where Roger was working. It was super thick - the lights flashed several times in the house. I couldn't tell for sure if it hit the roof of the carport or the tree beside it. I immediately felt my arm start tingling, too. I ran out to check on Roger and he was fine except for some aching ears from the loud boom. There was smoke in the air, but we couldn't tell where it originated. It appeared that we had suffered no major damage, but when I came back inside I noticed that about half of our power was out. I flipped the fuses that had been blown and then noticed something in our bedroom floor. This singed switch plate was laying on the floor, but I couldn't figure out where it had come from.
We finally saw that it had blown off of the light switch by the back door. Must have been a powerful surge!
Later that day, we discovered that the phone and cable line had taken a hit as well. Our modem had to be replaced (covered by Comcast), as well as our two land line phones and our router. We decided that those items were relatively inexpensive and not worth filing an insurance claim. Several days later, however, we discovered that the washer timer was no longer working (fortunately the washer itself still works, but you have to manually move it to each cycle). Then we discovered that the motion detector light on the end of the carport was out as well. Upon closer inspection, we saw that it had been blackened, too. Hopefully we'll stop finding broken things soon!

Friday, August 20, 2010

15th Wedding Anniversary

We celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary this year. Since we just got back from a massive vacation, we decide to keep our plans simple. Our anniversary was on a Wednesday and we were both busy with responsibilities, but we did go to a nice lunch at Panera Bread. Roger made a point of "officially" asking me on a date for the weekend. His post-it notes made me smile. I felt like I was back in college again.
We went to see the 4th Shrek movie and got some ice cream. Since it was a "big" annivesary, we did splurge a little more than we normally do on gifts. Roger got me a mother's ring and I got him a new chainsaw.
We found this note on our bathroom mirror when we got home from our date. Typical Kaylee and very cute!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Our Big Trip - Week 3

Day 15 - Aug 2 - Martin's Cove
Lots of rough roads and construction to start our Monday morning.
Some interesting scenery - it always seemed to be changing.
We stopped at Martin's Cove in Wyoming, which is a church historic site that commemorates the Mormon handcart pioneers, particularly the Martin and Willie handcart companies who were stranded in this area late in 1856. We had relatives in those groups, and Grandpa and Grandma Shields have served a couple of missions here.
Checking out the visitor's center
We checked the wall for relatives in the Willie Handcart Company. The James family is related to us. Kaylee once did a presentation on Emma James in primary.
A great quote by President Hinckley.
The kids were anxious to try pulling the handcarts. The small one was fun for Brandon.
Devil's Gate
We decided to do a small part of the trek out to Martin's Cove. The deal was that mom and dad had to pull the kids on the way, and the kids would pull mom and dad on the way back. We all quickly decided that being a handcart pioneer would have been hard!!
Time for the kids to take over.
Kaylee was having a blast (of course the boys were pulling most of the weight!).
Brandon wasn't liking it one bit.
A pronghorn we saw near the visitor's center.
"Split Rock" in the distance - one of the pioneer landmarks.
After our visit to Martin's Cove, we headed to Casper for the night and stayed at an RV park in town. The kids were glad for the chance to swim again, and they even got to play some mini golf.

Day 16 - Aug 3 - Wind Cave, Custer, & Mt. Rushmore
The wind was whipping in Wyoming as we started the next leg of our journey.
Playground at the eco-friendly rest area in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE!
Someone had to eat the last donut, so despite the fact that he had lost all desire for any more sweets, Roger suffered through it.
Kaylee wanted to stand by "her" state sign.
The clouds reminded us of winter days when we lived in South Dakota.
We stopped for a tour of Wind Cave National Park. The caves are 72 degrees all the time, so we had our jackets ready.
The kids checking out some pelts outside the visitor's center
A quick lunch before we head underground.
The caves surprisingly don't have any stalactites or stalagmites, but they do have "boxwork."
Later that day, we drove through Custer State Park along the wildlife loop.
These donkeys were hardly wild, but the kids liked seeing them up close all the same.
As we continued north towards Mt. Rushmore, we took a scenic drive through the needles. There were some pretty narrow tunnels!
We got a view of the Crazy Horse Monument from the road. Seems to be a slow going project. Not much progress since we were here about 10 years ago.
Setting up at "Kemp's Kamp"
The kids had to hit the pool for a few minutes!
An old fashioned steam engine that runs in Keystone, SD.

By the time we actually got to Mount Rushmore, it was getting late, but we still enjoyed our visit.
Derek took some close-ups.
George Washington
Thomas Jefferson
Teddy Roosevelt
Abraham Lincoln
All of the state flags are on the promenade.
There is a nightly program about freedom and then they light the faces on the mountain.
Too much sugar today?
The stage and screen for the program
The best picture we got of Mount Rushmore was actually on the front of the coke machine!

Day 17 - Aug 4 - Brookings, South Dakota
A cool tunnel we drove through as we were leaving the Black Hills.
Heading back to flatter land.
All of the rest areas in South Dakota have these nifty teepee structures.
Brandon is basically a suburb of Sioux Falls where we camped that night. Our Brandon was so excited that we were staying in a place "named after him."
We stayed at Big Sioux Recreation Area. The kids were happy to see that there was a playground quite close to our campsite. They took off and left us to set up the camper by ourselves!
After we got set up, we gathered up the sweaty kids and drove about an hour north to Brookings, where we lived for 3 years. Kaylee was excited to see where she was born, but the trip down memory lane was really more for mom and dad!
The apartment where we lived.
The building of the ward we attended - we were able to stop and visit with some friends, since we happened to be there on a Wednesday night!
Kaylee in front of the hospital where she was born.
The tower at South Dakota State University.
The Biostress Lab where Roger basically lived while he was in Grad School -
except when he was off in the prairie somewhere!
Due to a series of miscalculations, we ended up needing to do some laundry. Fortunately Brookings is a small town, so we could drop it off and go play at the park.
The kids enjoyed the park. They just wished there was enough time to swim!
Before we headed back to the campground that night, we ate at Guadalajara, a Mexican restaurant we used to enjoy occasionally. The kids were so excited that the chairs had unique pictures on them. We had to move around a few times before everyone was happy.
Wow - two kids with closed eyes. Impressive!

Days 18 & 19 - Aug 6 & 7 - Nauvoo, Illinois
More windmills
Nauvoo Temple
Nauvoo State Park - the kids were pleasantly surprised to learn that Will and Sarah had come with Grandpa & Grandma Shields to meet us in Nauvoo!
The boys wasted no time heading off to play.
Tacos for dinner - just before we were attacked by bugs!
Catching lightning bugs.
Never enough time to play games.
The kids all watched a movie in the pop-up while the adults visited in the other camper.
The next day we visited some of the historical sites in Nauvoo.
The favorite area was definitely pioneer games. The kids could have stayed there all day!
Brandon stayed on his horse for a very long time!
In the afternoon, we saw a play called "High Hopes and River Boats" put on by some talented performing missionaries.
Ever since I first saw these statues, I have loved this memorial to women in the visitor's center garden.
At the Family Living Center, we made ropes, learned about making yarn from wool, watched a barrel making demonstration, and tasted some homemade bread. There was also a candle area. We weren't able to make candles, but they had little sample ones for us to take. Kaylee was very disappointed that we ran out of time to do the pottery exhibit.
Making rope.
Later that night, we got to see a performance by the BYU International Folk Dancers. I didn't get any pictures during the event, but it was really fun to watch!
Time to say goodbye. I think Kaylee will miss Lee as much as she will miss her cousins!
Some pretty flowers we saw around Nauvoo.

Day 20 - Aug 7 - Carthage Jail, drive to Nashville
The jail where Joseph & Hyrum Smith were martyred.
And we're off again...heading west to go east.
Someday we might actually stop and go up in the arch!
Crossing the Mississippi again
We decided to make it an eat out day.
Everyone was excited to stop for a quick lunch at Taco Bell.
Simple pleasures, I tell you!
If only cruising through the states was this fast in real life!
Roger decided to be funny and harass me with my neck pillow while I was driving. I look like I broke my neck, and it is reminiscent of several stupid movie scenes!
This is how Roger sleeps when I drive. Doesn't he look comfortable?
We arrived at the Two Rivers Campground in Nashville and went for a quick swim.
It was getting late by the time we got to Pizza Hut for dinner.
Brandon was acting CRAZY while we waited for our food. He kept doing strange dance moves to the music. It was keeping us entertained, though!
Derek, like his father, loves it when I break out the camera.
Then it was off to Dairy Queen for dessert - the kids seemed to be in shock when we let them pick whatever they wanted. You can tell we don't get out much!
Check out that scraping job!

Day 21 - Aug 8 - Driving Home to Florida
We packed up the pop-up one last time, went to Sacrament Meeting in a small Nashville branch, and then hit the road. The kids settled in and played Oregon Trail together for a while.
Then it got a little loud. Roger couldn't take it anymore.
He actually fell asleep like this...I think.
Getting closer!!
The Alabama welcome center had some cool space things to see.
A quick stop to see the Birmingham Temple since it is right on the interstate.
After 21 days, it was finally time to come back to the Sunshine State.
The grand total - 6,288 miles. Miraculously, no major incidents with the the car or the camper. We were also blessed to find all well when we got home. We're very thankful to all the friends and family who contributed to making our trip a great one!