31. August 2014 · Comments Off on Colorado Discoveries 39: Bar D Chuckwagon Suppers, Durango, CO · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , ,
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The Bar D Ranch is about 10 miles north of Durango and is a fun, family friendly activity.

After our ride on the Durango & Silverton, we headed about 10 miles north of Durango (much of which was along the train route) to visit the Bar D Ranch.

These types of ranches are popular tourist attractions throughout the southwest. There are several in Colorado, including the Flying W Ranch right here in Colorado Springs. Our family had never done something like this, so it was a completely new experience.

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29. July 2014 · Comments Off on A Grand Canyon Preview · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,

I  have several posts to write about our trip out west in June, but between my full time work and making sure the kids are squared away this summer, I’ve been quite slow.

Feel free to browse these Grand Canyon photo albums and at the end of this post I’ll attach the text of the post I wrote for GeekMom about the Grand Canyon, which has a little of everything but not quite so much detail.

Drive to the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon Mather Campground Elk Sighting

Grand Canyon Hermit Trail

Grand Canyon Bright Angel Trail

Grand Canyon Visitor Center & Mather Point

Grand Canyon Sunset at Mather Point

Timmy the Junior Ranger

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When Geeks Go on Vacation: Grand Canyon, originally published at GeekMom.com 24 July 2014 More »

A beautiful day at a beautiful park.

A beautiful day at a beautiful park.

While we were in Colorado in May to buy our house, we took some spare time to visit the Garden of the Gods park, which is along the western edge of Colorado Springs.

The Garden of the Gods park is a gift to the City of Colorado Springs. In 1879, Charles Elliot Perkins, the president of the Chicago, Quincy and Burlington Railroad, purchased the land that included the Garden of the Gods. He intended for the land to one day be used for a summer estate, but that plan never came to fruition. After his death, Perkins’ children conveyed the land, 480 acres worth, to the City of Colorado Springs. A plaque commemorating this is affixed to one of the rocks. More »

02. July 2013 · Comments Off on Military Move Musings – Day 3 and the Oklahoma City National Memorial · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , ,
Our view for most of Day 3's drive.

Our view for most of Day 3’s drive.

Day 3: Oklahoma City, OK (1200′ elevation) to Raton, NM (6680′ elevation)

This was not quite as long a drive as the previous day, but it was the least interesting day of driving. It was westward across western Oklahoma on I-40, then we turned northwestward in Amarillo taking U.S. highways (instead of interstates) towards Raton.

Before we hit the road, though, we took a few minutes to visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial, which is a park at the site of the former Alfred Murrah Federal Building. The memorial is very beautiful and very well done. We visited at about 8am on a Sunday, so it was nearly empty. It’s sunk into the basement of the former federal building, and evidence of the bombed building can still be seen. More »

24. June 2013 · Comments Off on Military Move Musings – Day 2 · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , ,

Day 2: Opelousas, LA to Oklahoma City, OK

This was the longest driving day, about 8-and-some-change hours worth of driving, along with 2 more hours worth of numerous stops and traffic/construction issues in Dallas.

Dave slept 9 hours Friday night. He asked that nothing wake him up — neither alarm clock nor my noise — so I let him sleep.

…and sleep….

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23. June 2013 · Comments Off on Military Move Musings: Day 1 · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

Day 1 = Navarre, FL to Opelousas, LA

Being that this is our 3rd move since I started this blog 5 1/2 years ago, I will attempt to write a diary of sorts of our 4 day not-quite-although-it-feels-like-it cross-country drive between the Florida Panhandle and Colorado Springs.

Day 1 for us was supposed to be a “short” drive. In a good-old-fashioned military change of command, the outgoing commander says a farewell/thank you speech, ceremoniously gives up his guidon to the new commander, and then beats feet out of the area.

Dave had been saying for the past several weeks, "You'll have to pry the guidon out of my cold, dead hands!". But he was joking....

Dave had been saying for the past several weeks, “You’ll have to pry the guidon out of my cold, dead hands!”. He was joking…but you wouldn’t know if from this picture, would you? Photo: Michael Bruenning.

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10. June 2013 · Comments Off on Colorado Discoveries 5: Visiting the US Air Force Academy · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,

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For those who might not have realized, my husband’s new Air Force job will be as a faculty member in the Physics Department at the Air Force Academy.

On our house hunting trip to Colorado, it took us about 48 hours to choose our house and enter a contract. That was our goal. The rest of our time in the area was spent fulfilling assorted appointments, and we had a couple hours here and there to kill between appointments. In addition, both Dave and I had meetings on the Air Force Academy campus. Dave met with his new department, and I met with someone about trying to get a Reserve job.

The weather was beautiful, so we took some time to see the Visitors Center and hike the trail to the chapel and see the cadet area.

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I’ve decided it’s time for me to get my list in writing. I turn 40 later this year and I figure that’s half of my life complete (based on U.S. census tables), so it’s time to set some goals for the latter half of my life. I see and hear about things all the time that prompt me to say to myself, “I should do that before I die!” And then I tend to forget about it.

These are the big-ticket things I’d like to do one day. Most of it is traveling, but I’ve alway felt that there’s so much of the world to see and learn about.

No, I don’t have the money or time to do a lot of these things. But that’s what I have the rest of my life for, right? And it appears that much of it is visiting stuff.

Disclaimers about this list:

  • There is no timeline on most of these, except somewhat for Obergammerau
  • These are presented in no particular order
  • I am not suggesting I have the money to do all these things
  • This list will change constantly and I will bump it periodically

Leave a comment if you think there’s something else I should try, or if you have tips about something on the list, or if you want to share your own bucket list items!

Yes, I would like to do this one day: Cruise to Antarctica.

  1. Visit Antarctica
  2. Visit the Grand Canyon
  3. Climb Mount Rainer
  4. Run the Marine Corps Marathon
  5. Do the Goofy Challenge at Disney World
  6. Visit Banff/Whistler
  7. See the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
  8. Visit Yellowstone National Park
  9. Take an African safari, hopefully with the kids
  10. View the polar bears in Manitoba or Norway
  11. Go to San Diego ComiCon
  12. Visit Paris
  13. Ski in the French Alps
  14. Ski in New Zealand in July
  15. Learn to snowboard (Note: I tried to learn, twice. I’m too old for this crap).
  16. Visit Alaska, perhaps on a cruise
  17. Visit Beijing
  18. Visit Times Square on New Year’s Eve to see the ball drop
  19. See the Passion Play in Obergammerau, Germany in 2020. Take the kids.
  20. Plant a garden that will provide the sole source of produce for my family all season
  21. See Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade live.
09. April 2013 · Comments Off on Alabama Discoveries 5: The Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center, Mobile · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , ,
The Gulf Coast Exploreum is in a primo location in the heart of downtown Mobile. We enjoyed the museum, but it appears to need some updates.

The Gulf Coast Exploreum is in a primo location in the heart of downtown Mobile. We enjoyed the museum, but it appears to need some updates.

On the last day of the boys’ Spring Break, we took a field trip to Mobile’s Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center. I went in thinking it would be an all-day museum, but we ended up not spending much time there at all. The kids enjoyed it, but there seemed to be a lot of empty space in a seemingly very large building. It wasn’t crowded at all while we were there, our school district seemed to be the only ones in the Gulf Coast region having Spring Break as early as the college kids….

There’s an IMAX theater at the museum, which was showing Fighter Pilot. We saw Fighter Pilot at the IMAX theater at the Museum of Naval Aviation on one of our multiple trips, so we didn’t see it again.

Thanks to our military ID cards, we got an outstanding discount at the Exploreum: my admission was free (even as a Reservist) and the kids’ admissions were each $2 off.

The Scratch Factory exhibit was my motivation for taking the kids in the first place. I don’t know if it was good or bad, but I found that most of the Scratch Factory were tasks similar to what we saw at the Pensacola MESS Hall last summer. Wind tunnels, crafts that can be run through the wind tunnels, and a giant marble run wall.

My boys spent most of their time in the Scratch Factory area enjoying the marble run construction area.

Jacob's marble run.

Jacob’s marble run.

Timmy's "so tall I needed a stool" marble run. He wanted to make sure I could capture the three dimensions in his creation.  "Like Aquaduck", he told me.

Timmy’s “So Tall I Need a Stool” marble run. He wanted to make sure I could capture the three dimensions in his creation. “Like Aquaduck“, he told me.

We didn’t spend long in the Scratch Factory section. Thankfully, it was quite empty most of our time there, and a school field trip came in just as we were leaving the area.

The next section we explored was the BodyWorks section. This was a very good assortment of medical and health-related exhibits. You started by receiving a blank key-card with which you would insert the card into assorted physical tasks and the card would record data about the tasks. There were plenty of signs around attesting that the data on the cards was not kept for any reason, and the cards were erased upon their return.

There was a scale, numerous strength measurement tasks (arm wrestling, hitting a hammer to ring a bell, etc), and a few mental agility tasks. If you went around the entire exhibit, then returned the card to the beginning, this assessment would print out for you. Unfortunately, many of the assessment displays were broken.

The medical profession exhibits were really cool. The kids could explore what it’s like to do heart surgery, endoscopic surgery, and explore tools that surgeons uses.

Jacob exploring how doctors perform endoscopic surgeries. He had to rely on the camera as his "eyes" to thread one piece of metal through another.

Jacob explores how doctors perform endoscopic surgeries. He had to rely on the camera as his “eyes” to thread one piece of metal through another all inside that box in front of him.

There’s also a BeHealthy exhibit, which featured making correct grocery shopping and eating choices. I remember a similar exhibit at the Omaha Children’s Museum.

After a lunch break back at the truck (we packed leftover beef and broccoli stir fry) we headed back in to see the last large section, which was called the Hand’s On Hall. This was full of a wide variety of explorations: sound, light and physics displays. Like at the BodyWorks section, many of the exhibits showed signs of wear and some of them outright didn’t work at all.

Jacob learns about the impacts of 2-, 3-, and 4-pulley systems. You sit in a seat and use the systems to hoist yourself up. The more pulleys in the system, the easier it is to do, but you lift yourself more slowly.

Jacob learns about the impacts of 2-, 3-, and 4-pulley systems. You sit in a seat and use the systems to hoist yourself up. The more pulleys in the system, the easier it is to do, but you lift yourself more slowly.

My rock star. Pieces of PVC pipe and a pair of cheap flip flops. I could totally do this at home!

My rock star. Pieces of PVC pipe and a pair of cheap flip flops. I could totally do this at home!

We spent a total of 3 hours in the museum if you include time at the really nice gift shop.

After the museum we walked next door to the Fort Conde Visitor’s Center, which just opened last October. This area has a 4/5-scale reproduction of the original fort that sat on the same site. Fort Conde helped protect Mobile and Mobile Bay in the early 1700s. Tucked in among the more modern Mobile skyline, it’s a very short walk around the perimeter.

Timmy said "Let's pretend we're bombing!"  So they did...

Timmy said “Let’s pretend we’re bombing!” So they did…these are facing Mobile Bay.

If you've ever driven through the I-10 tunnel (called the George C. Wallace Memorial Tunnel...shudder), you will have driven right under Fort Conde. It's just above the western end of the tunnel.

If you’ve ever driven through the I-10 tunnel (called the George C. Wallace Tunnel…shudder), you will have driven right under Fort Conde. It’s just above the western end of the tunnel.

The boys and I had a fun field trip and it was a nice way to wrap up their Spring Break this year.

Our take from last weekend -- not bad!

Our take from last weekend — not bad!

This past weekend our family made yet one more trip to Orlando, so I could run my 2nd Disney Princess Half Marathon, and the boys could experience the early mornings and fun people watching with me. We stayed at Walt Disney World’s newest hotel, a value resort called The Art of Animation Resort, and we visited Sea World with our dear friends the McNabb family.

We repurposed the Incredibles costumes we wore last September, which was our plan all along. Unfortunately, my plan was for temperatures to be in the 50s like it had been most of the previous 5 years of this race. Instead it was quite warm. More »