Thursday, August 31, 2006

Phase 6: Home, New Home

So, the last phase of our trip was obviously coming here to Dayton.

We were so tired from our week-long excursion, that we were definitely ready to get there and start getting settled in.

When we arrived, we checked in at our luxurious $38/night hotel. Since we had Watley with us, we had to book a smoking room. Since this was a very classy establishment, the sheets, comfortors, and towels came equipped with several cigarrette burns. The door to the bathroom had a hole in it, apparently where someone put their fist through it. Very classy, I tell you.

Well, we checked in, and immediately when on a search to find our new abode. We wanted to make sure we knew where we were going, because we didn't have a whole lot of time to waste in the morning, since the housing office opened at 8, and the movers were arriving at 8:30. We were having trouble finding our street (the neighborhood is pretty big), and we just happened to find the house of one of Grant's co-workers from Albuquerque who also came for AFIT, but arrived a few months earlier. They had already scouted out our street for us, so we stopped to visit for a while, and they pointed us in the right direction.

We found the house, and started peeking through the windows, trying to get some sense of what we would be living in. At that time, our neighbor was playing frisbee in his backyard, and figured out that we were the newbies, so we talked to him for a while.

The next day we got our keys, met the movers, and we started moving in. Overall, it was a pretty good move. Only our dresser got a little damaged. I'm not happy about it, but I'm not surprised about it, either.

Now, we're pretty much all settled in. Watley's finally getting adjusted, and even making new dog friends! It seems like we're in a good community here, and we've already made some friends. Mrs. J was right, we definitely fit in knowing how to play Euchre - these people up here love it! I'm so glad she taught us how to play.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Thanks, Mrs. J!

Now I might have a new addiction, just like Mrs. J. I haven't started a blog for Watley yet, but I did enter him in the cutest pet photo contest with the following picture, taken when he was a puppy.

Now tell me, how can he not win?!

By the way, the winner gets $1,000!! Watley might actually be good for something after all.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Phase 5: Des Moines, Iowa

The last leg of our trip involved us going to Des Moines to visit friends that we met in Albuquerque, Jenn and Andy. Jenn and I worked at Coca Cola together, and quickly became friends. Several months later, they moved to Des Moines, where Andy was originally from. I was so glad to be able to see them and spend time with them, even if it was just a short visit.

We went to a trendy Italian restaurant in downtown Des Moines, called Centro. The food was excellent!
After our nice dinner, we decided to visit the Iowa State Fair, where mullets and missing teeth were a dime a dozen. Andy and Jenn told us about how every year, the fair awards prizes to the biggest pig, biggest cow, etc. So, we were on a search to find them.
And here it is...Iowa's biggest boar, Waldo. I will give a prize to anyone who can get within 50 pounds of his weight (excluding the few of you who have access to my Ringo account!!).
This is Tom, the second biggest boar. I know, it's a terrible angle to take a picture from, but Tom wasn't exactly cooperating with me.
And this is Blacky, the biggest bull. Again, a prize if you can get within 50 pounds of his enormous weight!

We saw some amazing things, that I'm sure will forever be burned into our memory. We had a great time visiting great friends.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Phase 4: Omaha

The next stop on our trip was Omaha, Nebraska. Grant's dad has been temporarily living in Omaha for about 2 1/2 years now because of a contracting job. We were so happy to be able to spend some time with him. One of the things we did while we were there, was go to the Durham Western Heritage Museum. There was an "Engineer It" exhibit at the museum, where you could build bridges, make boats, make paper airplanes, etc., all to encourage children to become engineers.

This is a picture of Grant making a very intricate paper airplane (there were 35 steps in the instructions!), and getting a little help from his dad.
One of the things I like about Omaha, is the Old Market section, which would be like Old Town in Albuquerque. It's very quaint, and definitely has the old town feel. Unfortunately, I didn't bring the camera with me when we went to Old Market, so I'm stealing this picture I found off the web.
This is the entrance of the Western Heritage Museum. It's an old train station, and it's beautiful inside! Very Art Deco. When we were leaving the museum, we realized that a wedding and reception had been going on. What a beautiful location for a wedding!
Grant's dad's birthday was about a week before we arrived in Omaha. Although, does there really need to be an excuse for ice cream cake? I think not!
His dad lives about 5 minutes away from Standing Bear Lake. So, we took the remote-control sailboat out for a test run. Grant now wants to be a sailor.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Phase 3: South Dakota (Custer State Park/Badlands Nat'l Park)

Well, when I upload my pictures onto my blog, it rearranges them in a different order, so I'll just talk about each one as they appear.

We camped out at Custer State Park for the 2 nights while we were in South Dakota. The park was very beautiful, with dozens of lakes, and a beautiful, scenic road (Needles Highway) that cut straight through the park.

Here is Grant with Watley at one of the lakes. It was Watley's first time swimming! He didn't like it very much at all.
We were also able to visit Badlands National Park. If we had never lived in the Southwest, and seen the Painted Desert, we probably would've been more in awe of it. But, it was very similar to the Painted Desert, which we've been to a couple of times.
When you're driving along I-90, approaching Mitchell, South Dakota, you see about a million signs advertising the Corn Palace. So, we felt obligated to see it. Funny thing was, when you take the exit, there's no signs telling you which way to go. I didn't know what to expect. I was imagining a great palace in the middle of a corn field made out of nothing but corn. Needless to say, I was a little disappointed to find that it was in the middle of town, and not at all made out of corn, but only decorated with corn. We found out that the domes on top are made out of styrofoam.
Okay, back to Custer State Park. Our campsite was near Sylvan Lake, so we walked to the lake close to sunset and got some incredible pictures!
And this picture is especially for Mrs. J, who refers to Watley as "Deery Lou," and compares him to a deer. As soon as I saw him drinking the lake water, I grabbed the camera with Mrs. J in mind. "As the deer panteth for the water...."

We immensely enjoyed our time in South Dakota. There's so much beauty and variety, it reminded me of our long lost state of New Mexico!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Phase 2: South Dakota (Crazy Horse/Sturgis/Mt. Rushmore)

After leaving Colorado, we headed up through Wyoming and into southwestern South Dakota.

When we got into the Black Hills region of South Dakota, we went straight to the Crazyhorse monument. They charged an entrance fee to get in, but thanks to Grant's Air Force sticker on the windshield, they waived the fee, since he is active duty! We didn't get any closer than the picture shows to the monument, but we went in the museum. They allowed Watley in, which we appreciated, since we found out ahead of time that pets are not allowed at Mt. Rushmore.
We were in this region of South Dakota during Sturgis Bike Week (the 2nd biggest motorcycle gathering in the country) - which doesn't take place exclusively in Sturgis, South Dakota, but the entire southwestern section of the state. This is just a sampling of the thousands of motorcycles we saw during our 2 night stay in the area. I got a kick out of all the big, burly, biker dudes sipping on their Starbucks Frappucino's and Latte's.
I'm glad that our stay in the area overlapped with Sturgis, because it only made our stay more memorable. Although, we were pretty sick of motorcycles by the time we left!

Here is the ever-popular Mt. Rushmore. Grant was attempting to make it look like I was one of the people on the monument.
Backing up a little bit, while we were driving through Wyoming, I saw a sign for a town that said "Population: 1." I asked Grant over the walkie-talkie if he saw the sign. He said not only did he not see it, but he didn't believe me. I convinced him to turn around, and when he saw that I was right, we decided to take a picture of the sign, for fear that no one else would believe us.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Phase 1: Rocky Mountain National Park

Well, it's time for Phase 1 of our semi-cross country trip.

Our first day, we headed off for Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. When we got there, we went straight to our campsite to set our tent up for the night. When we checked in at the campsite, the ranger told us that there had been some recent bear sightings in the area, and I immediately feared for Watley's life! Lucky for him, we didn't see any bears that night.

The next morning, we ate breakfast, packed up our camping gear, and took off for a drive around the park. We heard about Bear Lake, so we decided to go there first. It was smaller than we thought it would be, but very beautiful!Then, we drove along Trail Ridge Road. We saw some incredible scenery, and at some points, were actually above the timber line (over 11,500 feet)!

We also stopped to take some pictures of Long's Peak, which, I believe, is the highest point in Colorado.

It's really a beautiful park, and if you haven't visited it yet, we highly recommend it!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Greetings From Omaha

We are here in Omaha, visiting Grant's dad (who is here for some contract work). We've had a great trip so far - driven about 1,500 miles, seen 3 national parks, a few memorials, and a few thousand motorcycles (we happened to be in southwestern South Dakota during the Sturgis Bike Week).

Details will be coming soon, once we get settled in our new home. I'll break our trip up into phases, so it won't be so overwhelming (or boring) to read.

We already miss our Albuquerque home very, very much. Although I have to say, the move STILL has not settled in. I think right now, we're thinking that we're just on a vacation seeing the country, and we'll be back "home" in a few days. Well, we will be "home" in a few days, it's just that it will be a different home.

Friday, August 04, 2006


Jorge and Castro did an okay job of packing us up. The reason I say "okay" is because after they thought they were done, I realized that they had missed a whole closet, and some other things that they "thought" were staying here. So, they had to pack up a couple more boxes. I think they were just ready to go home.

Anyways, look at what they've done to our house!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

And so it begins...

Right now as I'm typing this, Jorge and Castro are in the process of getting all our stuff packed up (nice and neatly, I hope!). This is the beginning of the end of our stay in the great ABQ.

These last couple days have been pretty busy, to say the least, what with getting things organized for our trip, making camping reservations, hanging out with our friends one last time, cleaning, praying that our house sells soon, etc.

This whole moving thing still has not really set in with me yet. I'm sure once the house is empty tomorrow afternoon, I'll finally catch on that this is actually happening. But for the time being, I'm living in sweet denial.