Monday, August 11, 2014

Our California Adventure

The last week of June we took a few days for a family vacation to San Diego. We piled into our Durango with all our camping gear and plenty of snacks and headed West. We spent the first night (Friday) in Animas at my parent's house so that we wouldn't have to wake up quite so early the next morning. Saturday we got up, piled into our car, and headed to Tucson, AZ where we had a stop to make. We decided that is was time that we become a two car family and had decided to buy something in Tucson on our way through. The plan was to buy something small, economical, and with a working A/C (all of which our Durango is not), park our Durango at a friend's house, and drive the new car to San Diego, picking up the D. on our way home. We had enough money to pay cash, but due to some mistakes with a money transfer we only had access to half of our funds. We didn't think it would be a big deal, since we'd still be able to put down 3/4 of the purchase price in cash we figured financing the last couple thousand dollars would be easy. Turns out banks don't like to lend that small of an amount. Especially when you're from out of state. And have no credit history. So basically we spent an entire day hanging around the dealership (outside, because it was a tiny place and they didn't have room for us in there) in the baking heat of a sunny Tucson summer day and had no car to show for it. Finally, we just paid what we could put down, and left the new car to wait for us to come back from San Diego and pick it up on our way home, after our money situation had been worked out.
This left us in our not air conditioned car for the drive across the deserts of Southern Arizona. 111 degrees. With 2 kids. Luckily we had come prepared to deal with this potential situation. I had several gallons of water and a couple of spray bottles. I draped a light weight blanket, soaked with water, over Sharli's car seat so she could benefit from the evaporative cooling effect that would produce. Erik and Ethan had a water fight with the spray bottles until Erik was ready to take a nap, at which time he was wrapped in a blanket just like Sharli's and ended up getting so cold he was shivering when he woke up. Ethan and I tried to keep cool with the water as best we could, but we were both fighting heat exhaustion when we stopped in Yuma for dinner. It was one of the more miserable drives I've ever been on, but we survived, and had a lot of fun on the rest of our trip. We pulled into San Diego late that night and set up camp, right next to my parents, Marquette and Cameron, and some of our Neil cousins.
Sunday we enjoyed a lazy morning, then we made a bee-line for the beach. This is how Sharli spent most of her beach time...
 Erik employed a bit more creativity. He would run and splash in the water until he got too cold, then he'd either sit and snuggle with Grandpa or Grandma or...
...find some nice warm sand to play in. 
 The adults all took turns between staying on the beach with the babies and going out to play in the surf. Here's a shot of the guys out swimming in the waves.
That's them WAY out there. That tiny black dot. No, the other tiny black dot. Oh well.
While in San  Diego we also visited the Point Loma lighthouse, toured the USS Midway, ate some fresh fish (and chips, of course), rode the ferry over to Coronado Island, and just enjoyed the time spent with our family.
Point Loma Lighthouse
 Riding the ferry:

Our ride back to Tucson wasn't nearly as bad as we'd gotten an earlier start to our day. We were able to pay the rest of our money and pick up our new car, so Ethan and the kids drove it home while I followed in the Durango. We really like the new car, which is a VW Passat, and especially love the money it's saving us on gas! 
Despite the hot ride and the long drive we loved the time we got to spend with our family. And San Diego is always amazing, so of course we had a marvelous time!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Adventures at White Sands National Monument

Back in March we took a weekend and went down to hang out with my family. On a Friday evening, we met up with Heber, Kett, Cameron, and Darrow in Las Cruces and spent the night at the KOA campground there. We were going to stay at a nearby state park, but by the time we got there that evening it was already filled up, so we had to go with our back up plan. 
  The guys weren’t so sure about “camping” in town in a commercial camp ground, but I think they ended up being somewhat impressed. There are definitely some perks to being nearer to civilization!
Saturday morning we ate breakfast, broke camp and headed over to White Sands National Monument to spend several hours playing on the dunes. 
The huge stretches of pure white everywhere you look are just beautiful. The weather was gorgeous, just sunny enough to be warm and just windy enough to keep things comfortably cool. 
We all had fun, but one of my favorite parts of being there was watching Erik have fun.

 He LOVED the sand!
 He jumped and dug and ran and climbed and played hard all day. 
We set up an area that was (somewhat) sand free for the babies and the sickies (more on that later) and we were able to enjoy the messiness of the sand without it taking over.

When we were all worn out and starving (who takes time to eat lunch where there is such fun to be had?!) we loaded back into the cars and headed towards Animas to visit Grandma and Grandpa Richins. It was Grandma’s and Heber’s birthday that weekend, so we had big plans to party the rest of our weekend away. We got there that evening worn out and covered in sand, so we all got cleaned up and enjoyed just being around each other. That night though, all fun pretty much ceased. Kett had started throwing up while we were at White Sands and we thought maybe she’d just eaten something bad. Then Heber started in with it Saturday night. Then it hit me about midnight, with Erik joining in a few hours later. By morning Cameron was in on the “fun” as well, so we all skipped church and stayed home to fight over whose turn it was to hug the toilet. Mom, Dad, and Ethan were so sweet to all us sickies and made sure that we were all as comfortable as could be. It was such a relief to know that I could lay around and toss my cookies all day and still have the baby be taken care of.
By Monday we were all mostly back to normal, so we gave Carolyn the go-ahead to come over from Thatcher with her boys and join in on the party. Erik and Wyler played outside and were absolutely covered in dirt, so they ended up getting tossed in the tub for a bit before Ethan and I loaded up our kids and headed back towards Belen.

Even with the vast amounts of vomit, this was a fun trip. We made some good memories and had lots of time to just be around each other and visit. I’m looking forward to getting back down to Animas again soon, and hopefully things will go a bit smoother next time!