Saturday, May 28, 2011

Vegas 2011 - Day 1

Rob and I just got back from a 4 night trip to Las Vegas.  We can't remember if it's our 5th or 6th trip out there, but we always go at the end of May and we always have fantastic weather. 

This year we landed at 8:30am.  We arranged for our friend, Mary (who lives there), to pick us up from the airport and take us hiking.  We knew we wouldn't be able to check in that early so hiking seemed like a great alternative.  Last year our friend Corey took us to Red Rock to hike and it was a highlight of the trip for me.  This year Mary took us to Valley of Fire and it was just as awesome.

At our first stop Mary was talking about how she liked seeing "critters" and not even a minute later I scared a giant lizard under a rock.  I didn't even see it until it was halfway under the rock but the back half of it was about 12 inches long and had a striped tail.  We found out in the museum that it was a Gila monster.  We read on to learn they are rare to see and one of two poisonous lizards in the world.  I'm glad he was scared of me.

After that stop she drove us to a place where there are petroglyphs about 1500 years old.

From the petroglyphs we finally settled on a hike at the Rainbow Vista. 

We're very non traditional hikers and were easily distracted by a large lizard up on a rock and sent Rob up the cliff face, with the camera, to get a good picture.  Halfway up the lizard scurried off but Rob couldn't hear us call off his climb.  So, instead he took a picture of Mary and I on the bottom. 

We met him halfway down when we noticed some creatures moving in the distance.  We finally realized there were bighorn sheep and started running that way to get a closer look before they left.

This was pretty cool.  As Rob kept creeping closer and closer with the camera about 5 more sheep came out of a cave about 40 yards away from Mary and I.

We have tons of pictures of these things but here's a couple of the better shots.

We had gotten pretty far off the trail during our sheep adventure.  As we were walking back a large jack rabbit jumped out in front of us took off.  So, between the countless little lizards, the gila monster, the jack rabbit and the 10 or so bighorn sheep, Mary got her wish for seeing lots of critters.

After the hike we checked in and hit the pool for the next few hours.  A nice way to relax after the hike!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Too Soon?

My dad always had a rule growing up for when Spring arrived and we all wanted to start wearing shorts to school when the temperatures were still obscene.  Or maybe it was my mom....but either way, one of them stated that the temps had to be at least 65 before we could wear shorts.  As a kid, that was torture, but as a parent now I see the logic.  Actually, now as a parent I think they were being generous.

And generous is how I was feeling on Saturday when the sun was shining and Rob was setting up our sprinklers for the year.  The kids had asked him if they could put on their swimsuits and jump through the sprinklers.  He deferred to me.  At first I said they were crazy and tried to change the subject.  But, they're nothing if not persistent and I finally gave in and figured they'd freeze their little tushes off and come running back to me for towels and warmth.

That never happened.

I finally brought out towels for them to rest on the driveway but no sooner would they all lay down...

...than someone would jump up and start the cycle again.

We have 9 zones for our sprinkler system and they tested them all.  It wasn't until they finished their picnic lunch on the deck, and the sun went behind a big cloud, that they finally decided maybe it was a little chilly to be wearing swimsuits.

With some fresh sunburns (rusty sunscreen skills) they all went to sleep.  I think the temperatures did just barely tip 70 that day so maybe the 65 degree rule will reign in this house too.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Rainy Day = Craft Day

The kids and I were buzzing through Target yesterday when we spied some crafts in the $1 section.  Knowing today had a forecast of rain I let them each pick out a crafty critter to make.

And rain it did.  We only made it until 7:45am before they were begging me to do their crafts.  I agreed to it once everyone was finished with breakfast.  Suddenly no one was hungry; everyone was full. 

The craft itself wasn't anything amazing, but it was time consuming.  The purpose was to stick these foam cubes onto a plastic dome, and then add eyes and other appendages to make whatever critter you were going for.  As a side note, if you purchase your own set of these....the accessories need glue, they are not self-sticking (I found that annoying).

What I found most interesting was the way in which each of the kids tackled the project.  Austin was making a monkey and only wanted to work with one color of foam at a time.  Below, the light brown is almost all done.

He's also the type of kid who eats his food one group at a time (ex: first the carrots, then the sandwich, then the chips, etc).

Riley put them on in random clusters.  Her ladybug had some bald spots so I helped her fill them in at the end, but, I was surprised at how much she did without my help.

Ellie was the most methodical about it.  She started at the bottom and went all the way around, then started her second row.

I don't think it says much about her personality, but this is how she tackles all projects.  She really takes her time and thinks things through.

Riley finished first since I helped her the most.  Then she was playing by herself, went to the bathroom, and came out like this:

She was quite proud of her silliness and walked around like that for over an hour.

The final products:

Monkey - Austin
Fish - Ellie
Ladybug - Riley

By the time they were all finished the sun was out.  Mission accomplished.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I want to move

I want to move and I want all our family and friends to come with.  I think we need to collectively agree that San Diego is where we all should be living.  I just got back from a 4 night trip there and while it was freezing (even snowing!) here in MN, it was a beautiful 75-85 degrees every day I was in San Diego.

A friend of mine recently moved there to do her post-doc research at Scripps.  This is the same friend, Carrie, whom I normally take a ski trip with in northern California.  This year, her move coincided with the time we usually take our ski trip so we decided that instead of skiing I would just come and visit her in San Diego after she was settled in.  It worked out well because I had $200 in Sun Country vouchers to use up by May, so  I gave her 2 months to "settle in" before I went out to see her. 

I didn't arrive until almost 7pm Thursday so we didn't do much other than get lost on our way out of the airport (she hadn't mastered that area yet) and grab a bite to eat.  Carrie needed to run into work the next morning to let some rats into their boxes (she researches addiction) so she dropped me off at Torrey Pines Golf Course with her golf clubs and I bought a large bucket of balls.  Only 35 minutes and 110 balls later I still had over 1.5 hours to waste so I walked around the course a bit.

I only had my iPod with me to snap pictures so they are pretty fuzzy, but still, it was beautiful.  And, this was the worst weather I experienced my whole time there.  I enjoyed a nice lunch out on their patio and finished up in time for Carrie to pick me back up.  From there, we headed to Torrey Pines State Park to do a little hiking.  The views were fantastic.

Carrie captured our self-portrait as well as one of just me.

We hiked back down to the beach and walked the beach all the way back to our car.  After hiking up this mini mountain and back down the water felt wonderful on my feet!  She showed me a little bit more of her neighborhood and we cooked some tilapia for dinner.  It was pretty tasty and something I think I might throw on our menu at home.

The next morning she humored me with a morning run.  Carrie isn't one to "rise and shine" so this was a grand gesture.  Something in the air there allowed me to run twice what I would normally do, and I barely felt winded afterwards.  I'm telling's a magical place!  The rest of the day was spent touring some of the surrounding neighborhoods.  Which led us to a couple Open Houses.  We decided "why not" and entered a couple multi-million dollar homes.  Immediately the realtors started asking us questions about what we do and what not.  I stated I was just visiting and Carrie said she worked at Scripps.  While they drilled her with questions I checked out what 7 million will get you in the area.

Not bad.  But small.  3 bedrooms, one level, and I think, only 1600 sq ft.

On Sunday Carrie surprised me by agreeing to yet another run in the morning.  Not quite as long as Saturday's but it still felt great.  Post run we went to a cool hotel for brunch and to La Jolla cove to watch the Sea Lions, Seals, and check out the tide pools. 

On Monday morning I let Carrie sleep and set out on my own.  Her location is perfect so I was able to just walk about a 1/2 mile to Starbucks and then down a block or two to the ocean.  I could definitely get used to starting my mornings like that!  I couldn't get passed how pedestrian friendly the whole area was.

Everything was so beautiful and blooming there.  On my way back to her apartment I snapped this picture because I kept seeing these flowers and I thought they looked like a tropical least the head of one. 

She informed me they are called "Birds of Paradise" and that I wasn't as clever as I thought I was.

Our last day we drove to Coronado island to see what it was like.  Yet another place I could live (once we make our millions).  Miles of wide open beaches and cute little shops.  I played with my camera and took a panaramic shot looking back at downtown San Diego.

But, all things must come to an end, and from Coronado we went to the airport.  Once I was on the plane the pilot told us it was 39 degrees in Minneapolis. 

It will be a hard decision next year between skiing or San Diego.  Maybe I'll have to start taking two trips a year!