May 14, 2016

Road Trip Back to Tennessee and a whirlwind trip to Seattle

"Adventure is out there!"

 We're always up for a good adventure.  The drive from Utah to Tennessee isn't much of an adventure... it's a tad bit... BORING. So we decided to make it a little bit more fun on the way home. Granted it was quite a bit longer of a drive. But we sure saw some cool sites!
First stop... Moab!  It's been a few years since we hiked in Moab, in fact Sanna has never been to Moab so we decided to hike up to Delicate Arch.
Sanna was quite the little hiker.  She just charged up those trails and those hills.  She was so excited to go hiking!  

In fact she was a little TOO fearless at times.  Brent didn't seem too nervous but I was quite worried during parts of the hike where she wanted to dow what her brothers and daddy were doing.  

We made it to the top in pretty decent time. These kids were so excited to see the arch again and to be at the top. This hug was totally unposed. They just did it on their own.

We hiked over under the arch.  Here is a picture of my cute family under the arch...

Brent really wanted to hike down into the bowl to get better pictures. Sanna was being a crazy person and didn't want to be held. So we had to back track and go a different way into the bowl.  It's a lot more relaxing down there. Not only is it safer but it's also less windy.

 Brent hiked around a bit while we played down in the bowl and got some gorgeous shots. 

 I had wanted a picture from the normal viewing point of the arch but this view works too.  You can see it in the brighter lighted spot in the back right of the pic. By the way I can't get over how good all of my kids look in this pic.  If I didn't have hat hair it would be a perfect picture!

Then I think one of the kids suggested we switch and take some more pictures on this other rock and we really liked it too.  Thank goodness for timers on a camera and a fast running husband. Once again, I can't believe the kids are smiling so good at the camera, there is no one standing behind the lens!

Sanna was carrying around this rock in front of her face taking pictures with her camera.  What a cutie! 

Sanna is still taking pictures.  The sun was setting pretty fast as we were heading down so luckily Brent could put Sanna on his shoulders for part of the time so we could go faster.  It was pretty dark once we got to the bottom.

We were all pretty pooped once we finished so we strapped the kids in and Sanna was asleep within minutes.  The boys took a bit longer.  We drove as far as we could until we were too tired.  We made it to Cortez, Colorado and got a cheap motel to sleep.
The next morning as we were talking to people at the continental breakfast we found out we were right by Mesa Verde! Brent has always wanted to see this place and here we were! So we went in the national park and drove around.  All in all it was probably a 2 or 3 hour detour but totally worth it.

The pueblo indians built their homes in these cliffs all over this area.  It is really so neat!

After Mesa Verde we began the LOOOOONG drive from there to New Orleans.  We drove through Texas in the night, missing traffic in Dallas woot woot!  Brent was amazing, I don't know how he did it but somehow he made it until 5:00 am.  I had gotten enough cat naps during the night that I was able to take over at 5:00 a.m. and drive for about 4 hours while he got a bit of sleep.  So that being said besides a potty or gas break or food break here or there we drove straight to new Orleans and arrived around lunchtime.  We found some parking in the french quarter and walked through the streets.

 I cannot even describe how weird it was to be here.  I've spent about a month in Italy and I swear I felt like I was being transported to Europe when I was here in the French Quarter.  The smells, the look of the buildings.  The main difference was everyone was really super nice and laid back and everyone was speaking English.  :)  
My kids even seemed to enjoy it! 

There were a lot of bands there playing in the streets.  I tell ya, they were good! Brent wishes he had bought one of their CDs.  It was some really good blue grass.  The kids couldn't help but dance...

We also stopped and ate.  We got some crocodile nuggets and some jambalaya since we'd never had that before.  I felt like the jambalaya was a little bland but other than that it was a real fun meal!
All in all it was just a neat place! I'm glad we took the detour to stop here, it was definitely worth it.

We left New Orleans and drove a few more hours to Gulf Shores, Alabama.  It was the only gulf beach we could find that had any available campsites.  In fact it only had one site left!  We had kinda hoped to go to a beach in Florida but they were all full and now we are kinda glad because I don't know if the kids could have handled anymore time in the car.  They were so ready to be done and play in that water.  So we got there, got checked in and the sun was starting to get low but they still had a good hour or so to play in the water before it got too dark.  I thought they'd just be content to play in the sand that night since it was a little cooler with the sun setting and all.  But no they jumped right in rearing and ready.  I had to bring them their goggles from the car!

It was all fun and games until Griz realized how incredibly cold he was.  Considering the only chubby spot on this kid's body are his cheeks, it's understandable why he'd be so cold.  

We got some "dinner" from the grocery store. Then we went to set up our tent in the dark and were all in a bit of a daze after such a long couple days in the car.  I don't sleep well at all in the car so I was sitting in the tent "helping" get the beds set up and was literally falling asleep sitting there.  Once my bed was laid out I think I was asleep within seconds.

Saturday morning we ate our breakfast at the beach and were some of the first ones there.  I went to the store to gather lunch and snacks for the cooler but the kids and Brent stayed to play and didn't leave again until the sun was setting.  We figure it was about 11 hours at the beach that day. Crazy kids, crazy husband.  So much fun!

It was definitely one of the more crowded beaches we'd ever been to.

There was a couple sitting next to us on the beach fishing.  They got two pretty awesome fish which impressed us.  Then all the sudden a crowd gathered as he reeled in this monster fish.  The lifeguards came to see what all the fuss was about. When they saw what he caught they told him that this particular fish, while really fun to catch is pretty gross to eat. So he decided to let it back into the water. 

My cute hubby is just another one of the kids when it comes to playing at the beach.  

Chico had great plans for this sand castle.  Unfortunately there were some little kids on the beach that day (including Sanna) that just felt the need to keep climbing on it.  It was really frustrating for him.  But he finally called it done, we snapped a quick picture, and then finally let the little ones have at it.  Chico joined in on the jumping on it to destroy it, so it was all good.

People were starting to leave the beach for dinner and Brent decided to turn the remnants of the castle into a sea turtle.

Sanna thought it'd be fun to ride the sea turtle.  She was so dang cute up there it was hard to stop her.

I think these next ocean pics were from earlier but I don't feel like rearranging them.  I don't know why blogger set them here.... Anyway, Brent gets out in the ocean with the kids in order to get these great shots. They really are so awesome! And yes, it makes me nervous every time.

And here is the completed turtle. We helped Brent as best we could so we could get done before the sun went down but he mostly did it himself!

Griz made me an ice cream cone.

There was a beautiful wedding going on just up the beach from us.  They came down close to the ocean after the ceremony to take some pictures.  It was such a pretty scene that Brent snuck in a few pictures (with our long lens).  Oh man, it makes us want to do a wedding at a beach so bad!!!

After we left the beach we decided to go out to eat for one last time! We chose Bubba's Seafood, in honor of Sanna whom we call Bubba a lot of the time.  We showered first and then drove over there. It was like 9:00 p.m. when we arrived so of course our Bubba fell asleep right as we pulled into the parking lot.  She slept in my arms the whole time we ate.  The food was AMAZING.  We got a seafood platter with Mahi Mahi, Crab Legs, and Grilled Shrimp. The kids and I were downing it as Brent broke open the crab legs for us.  He didn't complain, in fact he encouraged us all to eat it. But when it was all said and done, he hardly got any food besides like potatoes and rice.  He is so selfless, he cares so much about our happiness. I love him so much, he is such a great example to me.

The next morning we woke puffy and sunburned and tired as can be.  I had told the kids we could go back to the beach if they wanted but luckily they were too tired.  So we started packing up our camp.

This sign was posted in our campsite.  The creek was a few feet away from our tent.  So crazy.  Brent was quite disappointed that we didn't get to see an alligator.

Chico had it in his mind to have a fire. He wouldn't take no for an answer so he gathered a whole bunch of kindling.  Brent, seeing his determination helped him get the fire going, we told him it probably wouldn't be much because we didn't have any bigger pieces of wood. Chico scoured the camp looking for bigger pieces and found some moderate pieces so it turned out to be a much better fire than we thought he'd get.

This cute sleepy head finally got out of bed and joined us. I can't believe how puffy we all were.

On our way out of the campsite we checked on the sea turtle to see if it was still there. Sure enough it was.  Once at the beach again, Griz was ready to stay and play at the ocean that day too but we had to tell him no. We only had just enough energy left to drive the 8 hours home.  The drive wasn't too bad, the kids did great.  8 hours seemed like a breeze compared to the long drives from earlier in the trip!


We had only been home a week or so when the Seattle  craziness happened as you can read about below.  Rather than make it it's own blog post I decided to add it to this because the pictures are really bad because they're just from my phone. But the story is pretty cool so here it is...

A little over a week ago I got an email from the wedding planner for a wedding I had been hired to photograph scheduled for the following week on May 20th. The schedule showed the location as being in Bellingham, Washington! I of course freaked out when I read that. First off I was really disappointed because I thought it meant I wouldn't get to shoot the wedding, and worried for the family that would be scrambling to find a local photographer last minute! Well I decided to check prices for flights. It wasn't too bad so I emailed the bride and told her how much it would cost for them to fly me out.  Rather than find a new photographer they told me to book the flight!  I was so nervous but so excited at the same time!  Luckily (like REALLY luckily) Brent happened to have the exact 3 days off that I needed so that I could fly out there without arranging for the kids to get tended.

And here are the pictures from my crappy phone of the trip...

Lugging all this camera equipment through the airport was exhausting. TSA sure didn't like the look of my large portable battery for my strobe flash. In the xray it looks just like the makings of a bomb they said. So they had to screen it extra close.
The second flight had the last season of Downton Abbey to watch. That was fun to binge on while I was flying...

 I got to Seattle and picked up my rental car. Then I went to downtown Seattle to check out Pikes Place Market.  I was starving and got some super yummy food with a super awesome view.

As you walk through Pikes Place Market you see tons of Fish, Fruits, Veggies, and FLOWERS. I wished I could have gotten some of these flowers.  They were so pretty!!! I did however buy a couple peaches. Oh man were they a good breakfast the next day!
 I walked a whole bunch more and saw some other cool sites...

 I got another bite to eat because I kinda skipped lunch being on the plane and all.
Crab cakes with an orange marmalade. Yum!

I walked back to my car completely exhausted and decided to head to my cousin's house where I was going to spend the night.
Unfortunately I headed right at rush hour.  So I was stuck in traffic quite a while.

My cousin's house was in such a pretty area.  This is the view from the room I stayed in.  Wowza! I was too tired to go outside and take a picture without a screen.    See that cute little white car at the bottom? That's a 2016 subaru impreza that I got to drive while I was out here.  At first when I got there the rental car company told me I'd be getting a mini van.  That's what I drive every day so I got it switched to this. Holy cow it gets good gas mileage.

Anyway, the wedding was on Friday.  I don't have any pictures on my phone from that day.  It was quite the day! The coolest/prettiest wedding I've ever photographed yet.  Just wait until you see the pictures. That's all I gotta say.

The wedding was over 10:00ish, I was out of there and back to my cousins by midnightish.  I had to wake up at 4:00 to leave for my flight.  I was so worried about waking up on time that believe it or not I had trouble falling asleep.  It all went fine of course, I jumped right out of bed when the alarm went off. I got the car returned and on the flight and binged some more on Downton Abbey.  Then I got to Minneapolis for a short layover. As I was walking through the airport I saw this and thought of my kids...

 Then I stopped in the bathroom and surprised myself by how RED my eyes were.  I don't think my cell phone captured it very well.  I needed some sleep!!!  So the next flight I tried harder to sleep and think I got a few winks in.
 I picked up my car when I got back to Nashville and then had a two hour drive ahead of me home.  Luckily my mom and dad let me talk to them on the phone while I drove so I'd stay awake.
Then I got home to this cute decorated house with an even cuter hubby and kids.  It was so great to see my hubby and the kids again.  I didn't take pictures of them cuz I was too tired, I took the pic below later it says "we love you mommy". We went to El Vallarta to celebrate my being home and then watched Big Hero 6 while I collapsed on the couch in complete exhaustion.  Like literally sick from exhaustion.  As I type this though, I'm watching the awesome wedding pictures load and yeah, it was so worth it.