Friday, August 26, 2005

Internet at home...finally!

Yippee! The Adelphia guy finally came over this afternoon to hook up my Internet. I've been going through withdrawls. (just kidding...I haven't been quite that bad). :) No more driving onto the Virginia Tech campus with the laptop to check my e-mail parked along the drill field.

Life here is alright. David and I started doing preschool at home this week. We sing songs, read stories, do art projects, and other stuff too. I'm happy to say that David learned his weekly Memory verse on Monday, and has been able to repeat it to me every day since. If you asked him what his favorite things have been, he'd probably tell you 1) playing with play-dough or 2) singing songs. After my scanner arrives, I'll have to scan in a couple of his projects to share. They're too fun.

Aidan has mastered climbing up our stairs. I'll turn around for 1 second, and then I hear him and David both giggling upstairs while they're playing with toys...or, I'll hear David laughing and Aidan screaming...I'd much rather hear them giggling together. They really do get along quite well though. David just sometimes forgets that Aidan is smaller and can't quite wrestle and rough-house the way that he likes to.

We're almost all unpacked now...only a couple boxes in our bedroom and some stuff in the office. Yeah!!! We found a scrapbooking table/desk for me today. I can't wait to start letting my creative juices flow making cards and creating scrapbook pages.

Oh, I'm an official Virginian. I went to the DMV last Friday and got my Virginia driver's license and got Virginia plates for the Tahoe (Virginia Tech ones--Go Hokies!!!). The coolest thing about getting my new license is that I didn't have to take the written exam like I did when I changed from having a Washington license to an Idaho one and from my Idaho license to my Oregon one. I just went in, showed my required docs, and presto!

Tomorrow I will have a few pictures to post. I plan to have Rob walk me through what I need to do (since he was the one who uploaded the picture of he and the boys from my first post).

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Home at last.

We're all getting settled into our new home. Rob and I have gotten a ton unpacked already, and still have more to do. Hopefully we'll have all but the kitchen unpacked by the time we go to bed tonight. Ambitious idea, I know. I'm currently sitting outside of the Student Services Building at VT surfing the web via the wireless connection on Rob's laptop. Finding this building was definitely an adventure--we drove the wrong way a few times before we finally found where we were supposed to be going.

This campus is beautiful--buildings made from *Hokie stone* mixed in with more modern looking brick buildings. It's HUGE though! Even the football stadium (Lane Stadium) is enormous. I'm hoping and praying that I'll be able to start figuring out where everything is around here soon. Everything is still so foreign and new. The people are great out here--so nice and hospitable. We're all learning what southern hospitality is all about. :)

Aidan and David are currently trying to escape (Aidan is almost running now when he walks around), and Rob is chomping at the bit to get to do his Internet surfing. Think I'll go play with the boys and listen to the cicadas screetch some more.

Oh, one last thing--lightning bugs are SO freaking cool! We saw some a couple of nights ago on a walk we took. At first I wasn't sure what I saw, then I saw all these flashes of light swarming just above the grass. So cool. So awesome. Can't wait to see them more!

Friday, August 05, 2005

Bowling Green, Kentucky or bust

Well...we ended up not getting to go to the St. Louis zoo this morning. Rob and David hit the hotel pool after they got up and took Sydney to the bathroom. I'm so thankful that Rob let me sleep in a bit this morning. It really helped me not feel so tired today on our journey from O'Fallon, Illinois (in the greater St. Louis area) to Bowling Green, Kentucky.

For those of you wondering what states we have driven through so far: we began in Oregon, then drove through Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, back into Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and are currently sitting in Bowling Green Kentucky at the home of Rob's former adviser at the University of Idaho, Dr. Jeff Butterfield and his family. Lauren and A.J. (Jeff and Wendy's 2 kids) have been angels with our 2 boys. They've played on the trampoline, Lauren took David to play on their "playground" equipment, played with action figures, the x-box and some other things. Glad to have that boy of mine burn some of that pent-up energy--he should sleep well tonight. Poor Sydney though, she isn't sure what to think of the Butterfields' Boston terrier, Pepper, so she barks most times when she sees him. Currently, she's sleeping in her kennel in the garage so she won't be keeping all the neighbors up this evening with her fairly constant barking. She LOVES the woods on the property though. The house is in a wooded lot, and there are lots of sticks that she can play with. There are actually houses all around Jeff and Wendy's home; however, the trees hide them, so you feel like you're out in the middle of nowhere.

The drive today was pretty. Lots of corn and soybean fields in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. We also got to see the pretty yellow leaves of the tobacco plants growing out in the fields after getting into Kentucky. One thing we found as a surprise was the sight of oil rigs in Illinois and southern Indiana--who knew that oil was found there (we sure didn't!). :) We actually drove into some rain again once we were in Kentucky. Rob took David in for a potty stop, and I saw lightning flash two or 3 times while I sat in the Tahoe feeding Aidan.

Today's drive was fairly uneventful though. Had our first experience with a toll highway driving from Evansville, Indiana to Bowling Green, Kentucky. It wasn't too bad--too bad that each of the stops didn't make you pay an even toll charge. One toll booth required us to pay 60 cents to pass, 2 required us to pay 50 cents and then another one had us pay 40 cents. It wasn't so bad as long as you had exact change (no lines at those lanes), but if you didn't have exact change, the line to get through was longer. Bowling Green was definitely a welcome sight though. The boys were definitely ready to be done driving for the day. I'm so proud of them. They have really been so good on our trip. Tomorrow will be so nice when we get to Blacksburg--no more long days of driving in the car for awhile. Yeah!!!

We got to try a southern appetizer this evening when we went out for dinner at Toots! restaurant--fried dill pickle chips. They were so yummy, especially dipped in ranch dressing. I'm salivating right now thinking of them. :) They don't sound that great, but they really are good. That restaurant was good though. The kids got free meals: hot dogs, curly fries and a cup of ice cream, and I had a wonderful chicken caesar salad. I think Rob enjoyed his hot wings--it looked as if he polished them off.

The houses here are beautiful. Most of the homes' exteriors are either constructed of brick or stone and are just amazing. I'd love to be able to go through a tour of homes here just to catch a glimpse of the insides. Maybe I'll get to see similar homes when we get to Virginia. Guess I'll just have to wait and see.

Yikes...I just looked at the clock and noticed that it's almost 10 p.m. I had better get to bed since Rob was kind of hoping to get an early start in the morning. Blacksburg is having some sort of festival this weekend that we'd like to go to, and we've got a bit of a drive to take to get there. We're driving down to Nashville, then to Knoxville and up to Blacksburg tomorrow. We're even driving through Bristol--might have to take pictures of the speedway if I can see it so I can send them to Grandpa Stan and Dad. ;)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

St. Louis, here we come!

We left Omaha, Nebraska this morning and set off for the greater St. Louis, Missouri area. We saw lots of corn fields all over Iowa and Missouri. Both states are beautiful though, and have really kickin' rest stops. One that we drove by in Iowa even had wireless Internet access! These rest stops aren't like anything I had ever seen in Washington, Idaho or Montana, they look kind of like little houses from the road and are really nice on the inside. David and I liked the sinks that dispense soap and water itself and then when you're done washing your hands, the water turns off and the dryer turns on. Too cool, if you ask me!

The drive was a lot more "interesting" today as far as scenery goes. More trees, rolling landscape...lots of green. We stopped in Kansas City for lunch, then were bound for St. Louis. Our friend, Dan Mitchell, from Eugene, called us somewhere between Columbia and St. Louis and asked us about the latest post to our Yahoo! group--something about me being booked into a jail in Wyoming after supposedly going into a fit of road rage chasing Dennis Rodman. Sorry to disappoint any of you who may have bought into this humorous satire of our trip; however, NONE of it was true. It gave us a really REALLY good laugh though. My stomach still hurts from laughing so hard.

We ate at Cracker Barrel for dinner tonight--thanks Dan and Tam for your suggestion! It was so nice being able to eat some real good homestyle comfort food.

Well, Syd is in her kennel for the night, David is laying down and needs "mommy cuddles" and Aidan is crying, so I need to wrap this up. Tomorrow we're hoping to visit the St. Louis zoo and then we're off for Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Good night. :)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

On the road.

Wow! It is hard for me to actually comprehend that we are over half-way done with our drive from Eugene, Oregon to Blacksburg, Virginia. I'm currently sitting at the desk in our hotel room in none other than Omaha, Nebraska. Omaha isn't anything like I thought it would be. In my mind, I pictured this city in a really flat area (probably because Dustin and Mom told me that Nebraska was pretty flat and boring when they drove over to South Carolina a couple of years ago); however, there are hills all over the place, and trees too! From what I have seen, it's really pretty here. It is sure hot and muggy though! When we rolled into town between 7 and 7:30 (central time) this evening, our car themometor read between 95-99 degrees Ferenheit. Even while we were down at the hotel pool, it really hadn't cooled down much. Thank goodness for air conditioned rooms! :) We were all really happy to get out of the car so we could stretch our legs and feel somewhat human again.

We have definitely been to and through some fun places. Saturday we drove from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho to West Yellowstone, Montana. The skies were blue, roads were good so we set cruise to 80 mph and were on our way. Grabbed lunch at Taco Bell in Missoula, MT and found a place to play in the Clark Fork River just east of Clinton, MT at a little fishing access point. That stop wore out Sydney and both boys, so they slept for quite awhile afterwards. Sydney played fetch with sticks, and the boys waded (or sat in the water, as was Aidan's case) and threw rocks to their hearts' content. After we left there, until he fell asleep somewhere between Butte and the Continental Divide, whenever David saw water he said, "I'm listening, can we go to the river or to the lake?" "I'd like to go swimming in the river now."

After leaving there, we continued our trek on I-90 until we had to turn south to head toward West Yellowstone. Man, I am continually in awe of God's hand when I drive through the Rocky Mountains. He's so amazing! His creation is so beautiful and breathtaking. I feel so thankful to be able to partake of what he has made and to be able to experience the different sights and sounds.

Virginia City (aka "Cowboy Town" in David-ese) was a great stop. We walked up and down the streets (or if you were David, you ran), had our pictures taken at an old-time photo shop, bought David some new cap gun pistols since his other one broke between Coeur d'Alene and Virginia City and ate some home made ice cream. If we had arrived just 15-20 minutes earlier, we could have taken the steam engine to Nevada City. David was the most bummed about not being able to ride the train. He had fun doing other stuff though--especially getting to play with guns in the photo shop and with his own six-shooters. I wish that we would have had more time to spend there. Hopefully we will make another trip in the future. From there, we drove to West Yellowstone where we stayed for the night. The next morning we were up early, ate breakfast and set off for the park.

Yellowstone was great. We didn't see much wildlife (just a couple herds of elk, some Canadian geese, and a couple of chipmunks). I had really hoped to see some bear, buffalo and some other things, but I guess that it wasn't meant to be this trip. :( At least I got to see a few geysers, and was able to just enjoy the scenery. The next trip I take to Yellowstone might have to be over a week or something. David clapped the entire time Old Faithful was spouting, and Aidan was just oblivious to it all. He was happy just playing in the dirt and gravel just behind the observation deck.

I drove through the Grand Tetons in northwestern Wyoming--another beautiful spot. We stopped to take pictures there before continuing eastward to Casper and even got to see a moose eating out in the water just off the road. Man, I was so excited to get to see a real moose out in the wild! Whem leaving the Tetons, we saw lightning in the distance. By the time we arrived to DuBois, Wyoming, we were in the midst of the storm. Lightning was flashing overhead almost nonstop until after I got east of town. So much for trying to eat lunch there. The rain was also coming down so hard that it washed some of the red colored soil from the hills into the Wind River, leaving the water resembling the Chocolate River from Roald Dahl's book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. David thought that comparison was great, and made sure we all knew that he was NOT Augustus Gloop and wasn't going to be falling into the chocolate river. :) The drive to Casper was LONG. The boys (and Rob too) ended up napping for a stretch, so I was listening to the stereo and was singing along. Casper was a welcome sight after having passed through a bunch of range land, where grass and cattle grazing is pretty much all you see for miles and miles. It's beautiful but monotanous (sp?) at the same time.

While in Casper, we stayed with my Uncle Rick and Aunt Shannon Gibson (Uncle Rick is one of my mom's brothers) and their 3 boys, Patrick, Nathan and Eli. Patrick had just returned home from a missions trip to Seoul, South Korea and had stories and pictures to share. We actually haven't seen this crew since we all met up in Bozeman, Montana to go camping about 5 years ago, so I was completely floored by how much the boys had grown. Uncle Rick and Aunt Shannon graciously allowed us to impose upon them for 2 nights, and we had a blast getting to visit and experience just a wee bit of Casper. One of Rob's favorite things was getting to eat fried Oreos at the Philly Cheese Steak place where Patrick works. They take an Oreo and coat it in the funnel cake batter and deep fat fry it. Sounds kind of weird, but they taste wonderful and are very rich. The Oreo softens and takes on a more cake-like texture. Yum! David would say getting to play with Eli (or E-why as he calls him) and Nathan. He and Aidan were in "boy heaven" having the 3 big boys to play with and follow around. I think that Aidan was particularly fond of Patrick--their quiet, somewhat laid back personalities seemed to mesh well.

I was sad to leave Casper because it always seems like we never have enough time to catch up and visit with Rick and Shannon. Hopefully we will get to see each other again sooner, rather than later.

After leaving Casper, our next stop was at Mt. Rushmore and Rapid City in South Dakota. We stopped at Newcastle, Wyoming for lunch and let the boys get out of the car to play at a park. Dogs weren't allowed off leash at this particular park, so we had to put her on her tether. Well...I was playing fetch with her (while holding Aidan), and she ran around one of my legs and I wasn't able to get it moved completely out of the way before her tether caught me, so I ended up with a nice little rope burn around my left ankle. Rob teased me this morning and said that it kind of looks like I'm abused. At least we both know the truth. :) Mt. Rushmore was a VERY short trip. We parked, walked up to the observation area, went into the gift shop to get a few souveniers and went back to the car. David kept saying that he was "sick" while we were there--we believe that he was just tired, but we went back to the car for him anyways.

Rapid City was awesome!!!!!! After checking into our hotel, we went for a little drive. We drove by Dinosaur Park, then went in search of the Rotary Storybook Island Park. Storybook Island was so stinkin' cool! The park is 13.6 acres of child heaven. There are models of story book characters all over the park, and there are lots of fun places to play. We arrived an hour before closing time, but it was definitely an hour well spent (wish we could have had longer here too since the boys were having such a blast, but oh well). David was literally running to and fro, trying to see and play with everything that he could. Aidan liked getting to climb up on different things, and toddled around a bit on the different paths. I think his favorite part was throwing rocks on Aladdin's magic carpet--go figure! My boys definitely love their rocks. :)

After leaving Rapid City, we drove across South Dakota and down into Iowa before stopping for the night in Omaha. Since Rob had never been in South Dakota before, we stopped at Wall Drug--the ultimate tourist trap. It was a nice little stop, although it was only 42 miles east of Rapid City. It helped prime the boys for the next part of the journey, so that's all that counts. Our next somewhat major stop was along the Missouri River/Lake Francis Case reservoir near Chamberlain, South Dakota. This was another fun time of throwing rocks and playing fetch. Sydney actually got brave enough to swim after a couple of sticks. If she didn't like where they were at, she waited until they went down river just a bit and were closer to the shore before she ventured out. She found one stick that was almost too big, but she loved it. Although everyone involved had fun, the drawback of that whole stop was having a car that smelled of wet dog. Oh well.

Our hotel room in Omaha is really cool! I'd say that it was more like an apartment, a loft and master bathroom upstairs, a living room (complete with a fireplace), dining area, kitchen, murphy bed and a 2nd bathroom were all downstairs. David got the upstairs to himself and Rob, Aidan and I had the downstairs. This hotel is definitely one that I'd consider staying at again.

Well, I've written a novel about our travels thus far, so until later, God bless!