Sunday, April 30, 2017

Last Activity of Vacation

The last official fun activity of vacation was to swim in the pool at the hotel when we got here.  The kids tried to swim the pool up in Flagstaff the other day but it was so packed and noisy they couldn't really enjoy it and left early.  Today as you can see there is no one else in the pool and the kids get to enjoy it all by themselves.  No one is looking forward to heading home tomorrow and having to get back to the real world but I guess all good things must come to an end.

Montezuma Castle

On the way down the Phoenix we decided we should get our monies worth out of the National Park pass we bought the other day and hit one more before we heard home. This castle was an old Native American castle built in the side of a cliff in the 1400's, so a really long time ago. It was pretty cool to think that this could be built that long ago without the benefit of modern tools. The site was neat but I'm sure it would have been worth the $40 we would have had to pay without the pass.

Meteor Crater

The activity this morning before we started to make our way down to Phoenix was to head out and see Meteor Crater. We attempted to visit yesterday but when we got there it was closed. I thought about forgoing it all together but Marshall was pretty excited about seeing it so I figured we better get out there.  The place was surprisingly nice. I assumed being "family owned and operated " it was going to be a Mickey Mouse thing that charged way too much, just like a lot of the other Arizona attractions. This was not that at all, had a great visitor center and an awesome museum. Certainly a must visit it you are ever in Arizona.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Holbrook Arizona

On the way back to Flagstaff we decided to stop into Holbrook, Arizona for a couple touristy pictures at the key Route 66 stops.  Not sure if the rock above holds and Route 66 historical significance but the Wigman Motel certainly does.  We also stopped to get some ice cream, that we ate at the Dairy Queen, as a small treat to hold us over until we got back to Flagstaff for supper.

Neat Car Image

As we were driving through the park we stumbled onto this old car that commemorates Route 66 that goes through the park.  Figured we should stop and take a picture of it.  By the way, those clouds you see to the left of the picture were part of a snow shower that hit is as we were driving through.

Petrified Forest

Today's vacation adventure was heading over to the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert National Forest for the day.  Jen and I had been here once before about 20 years ago on the way down to the Iowa State bowl game with Mema and Papa but the boys hadn't so we figured it was good opportunity to take them.  The weather was completely nuts today.  We had sun, wind, rain and even snow in the 3 hours we were in the park.  Given the poor weather situation we weren't able to get out and hike much but the park is so vast it really is best viewed as you drive slowly through.  We did manage to get an annual National Park Pass today so I guess we are going to have to take more national park vacations this year.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Ice Cream Incident

On the way back from the Grand Canyon we ended up having a bit of an incident with a vanilla shake.  Since we snacked at lunch while we were hiking around we weren't really that hungry plus it was nearly 3 in the afternoon here and we didn't want to mess our dinner schedule up so we stopped to get some shakes.  While we were getting the shakes I said we should drink the shakes here and then go, but Jen said she didn't want to slam her shake down so we should get the to go.  I'm not a big fan of ice cream in the car all it does is lead to messes which today it did.  As we were pulling out of the McDonalds it was really busy both ways and I thought I saw an opening.  A car was turning and the other lane was clear, what I didn't realize was there was a car hiding behind the turning car.  As I pulled out I saw him, slammed on my breaks and Clancey's shake went flying.  I pulled over as quick as I could to assess the damage but pretty much the whole shake was on the floor and seats...Uggghhh. I was pissed!  We shouldn't have had ice cream in the car in the first place and now exactly what I thought would happen, happened.  We got it cleaned up as good as we could but now ice cream has been officially banned from the car.  We eat it at the place or don't get it!

Grand Canyon

Today was our big day up at the Grand Canyon and wow was it ever amazing.  You don't really understand how big it is until you are standing at the top looking out across it and even then it is hard to comprehend.  We toyed with the idea of coming up tomorrow instead but I'm glad we went today before the crowd to too big on the weekend.  The Grand Canyon is big but there is only so much parking.  We ended up hiking about 4 miles up the Rim Trail and back to take in all the views.  Not sure we are going to make it to the bottom this time but we are probably going to have to come back to take Marshall to the bottom.  Looks like that requires an over night trip so we will probably have to come prepared for that.

Thursday, April 27, 2017


We made it to Flagstaff without having to go on anymore dirt road mountain passes.  I guess we did see a few herds of Elk on the way up but that is about an adventurous as it got.  When we got to our hotel we had to switch rooms because it seems the previous guests spent the night smoking dope and our room stunk pretty bad of it.  We plan to spend some time in hotel pool and then crash before we head to the Grand Canyon tomorrow.

Crazy Mountain Pass and Dam

Holy crap that was a crazy drive!  The mountain pass we took through the mountains turned out to be about 20 miles of a level B single lane road with ledges that plunged hundreds of feet down to the valley floor.  Took us a little over 2 hours to go the 40 miles to Roosevelt Dam you see behind Jen and I.  Good thing we got an SUV as a rental car or I'm not entirely sure we could have made it.  From here we still have 3 hours to get to Flagstaff but at least it should be on paved roads the rest of the way.

Goldfield Ghost Town

After we got done with the zoo we headed over to Goldfield Ghost Town to check it out, at Jen's request.  Apparently the show "Ghost Hunters" has been here a number of times for investigations.  The town was pretty cool but was kind of a tourist trap.  Basically every building was trying to sell you something and there really wasn't much of a museum to speak of.  If nothing else it was good for a few pictures before we get on on the road for the trek up to Flagstaff.  We plan to take the scenic route though the mountain pass which will make the trip up longer but should be an adventure.

Phoenix Zoo

Today we made it to the Phoenix Zoo to look around. I was here once before when I was about Clancey's age but since it was a long time ago I don't remember much. So far the zoo has been pretty cool the exhibits are very interactive and you can get really close to the animals. Plan to walk around here until about noon and then we will head to the ghost town just outside of Phoenix. After that we will head up to Flagstaff to go see the Grand Canyon tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Pool Time

The highlight of any vacation as a kid is getting to swim in the hotel pool.  Given we have a pool at home you wouldn't think the kids would enjoy it as much as they do but turns out kids just can't get enough of swimming.  I suppose it also doesn't hurt that they boys haven't gotten to swim in our pool since last August so they are jonesing for a bit of pool time.  Probably swim another hour or so and head to bed early.  After being up since 4am this morning we are all kind of tired.

Made it To Phoenix

We made it to Phoenix!  As you can see from the photo's above we had a bit of a change of plan.  Turns out the zoo closes at 5pm this time of year and by the time we got done with lunch it was 3pm so the zoo didn't happen today.  Instead we headed over to Hole-In-The-Rock which is right next to the zoo and did some hiking which the boys really enjoyed.  We decided that we would hit the zoo up first thing tomorrow and then head up to Flagstaff mid afternoon.  We won't get to the Grand Canyon now until Friday but that should be fine 3 days at the Grand Canyon will probably be enough.

Headed To The Grand Canyon

Here we are in the plane getting ready to head to Phoenix / Grand Canyon until next Monday.  After I spent the last few months on the road we figured it was time to use my reward points and have a family vacation.  After talking with the boys we decided the next piece of Americana we wanted to see was the Grand Canyon.  As you can see we have an early morning flight but get to Phoenix at noon which should give us plenty of time to do some stuff.  The for today is to spend the afternoon at the zoo and then head up to Flagstaff tomorrow.  Should be a good time.

Monday, April 24, 2017

New Car

After spending the last few days looking for a new car I finally picked one out and as you can see it is a total "Mid Life Crisis" car.  My plan was not to go back to the Subaru dealer to get a car after my whole debacle with the service department but after talking with the owner and having them assure me they wanted to make it right I gave them another chance.  They gave me a lot more on my trade then I expected and came way down on the "Mid Life Crisis" car so it worked out.  Now in my defense it is a used car and the price was in the range I was looking at so I didn't go total idiot but it probably isn't the most practical thing.  The car is a 2014 Subaru BRZ and it only had 6000 miles on it.  I guess the previous owner buys cars "soups them up" with aftermarket parts and then trades them back into the dealership to get another one.  Normally the BRZ is a really nice looking car but really is kind of a dog.  Well this BRZ has been upgraded to have a Turbo, Intercooler, and Racing Suspension.  This car is far from a dog and is really fun to drive.  The real question will be when I get to winter will it still make sense but I guess I'll worry about that later.  Worse comes to worse, I can drive the my truck ;)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Marshall's Home!

We just got back from the school in Lowden to pick Marshall up from his big trip to DC.  The kid was extremely tired after 3 straight days for 14 hour days touring and sleeping in a hotel room with 3 other kids.  He didn't have a whole lot to say about the trip but I expect tomorrow he will open up more about the trip.  Generally takes the kids a day or two to recover after something like this before he starts telling the stories.  Probably by Monday night we will start getting some tidbits.  Sure is a good thing he doesn't have school tomorrow so he can rest a bit!

Enjoying the Nice Day

This morning after the fireman's breakfast Clancey and I headed down to Davenport to pick up the stuff we needed to get the pool opened for the year.  Once we got back I spent some time getting my car cleaned up so I can take it in to get my new one tomorrow and working on the pool.  It's nice to be home and actually have a full weekend to spend with the family and do stuff around the house.  Could get used to this whole being home thing.  Now the last thing on my agenda is to decide what I want to get for my new car?!?

Pancake Breakfast

This morning Jen, Clancey and I headed up to the Pancake Breakfast put on by the fireman.  As always the breakfast was really good and had a great turn out.  For us it wasn't the same without Marshall there with us.  We are excited to pick him up tonight and get the family back together again.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Looking At New Cars

After Clancey's big flying adventure, I took Jen over to Zimmerman to take a look at some of the cars I had been looking at.  There a few different ones, all of which were quite different in price and function.  The one above is the one that is kind of the front runner right now but a convertible in Iowa seems so impractical.  During a few months a year it would be awesome to drive around in but the dead of winter or the crazy summer heat I'm not so sure.  Plus I'm not a huge fan of the salesman we are working with.  He is very high pressure and turning me off quick to buying from him.  I don't plan to decide today but I really want to get this taken care of before we leave for Arizona on Wednesday.

Clancey's Flying Adventure

This morning with Marshall gone Jen and I thought it would be a good day to take Clancey out a spoil him a bit.  Just so happened on Friday before I left work I got an email about free flights for kids out at the Marion airport.  As a surprise we brought him over to take a flight in a small plane.  There was a whole bunch of different planes and pilots giving rides but Clancey probably got the best one.  The plane he got was just a two seater and he had his own stick.  After take off the pilot let Clancey fly most of the flight!  He was stoked to get the opportunity to not only fly but to actually get to control the plane.  Kind of crazy to think that with as much as I fly on Wednesday when we fly to Arizona both of my kids will have spent more time in planes this week than I have!

Friday, April 21, 2017

New Car Search Is On

So today I got wonderful news when I took my Subaru into get looked at, turns out it needed a couple $1000 in repairs.  It had been acting funny lately but I didn't think there was that much stuff that was going to need to be done on it.  I am a little pissed at the Subaru service department, I get that stuff goes wrong with cars and I am somewhat of a hard driver but to have 5 different things go wrong since the last service appointment is a bit suspect.  How is it that you can get a 31 point inspection every damn time they only identify the need for new tires and then this!  Well I'm certainly not going to put that kind of money into an old car so I'm out looking for a new one.  As you can see above my choices very greatly, do I go with another disposable car to get me to and from work or do I get something that will be nice and hopefully last a bit longer.  I'm not sure yet but I want to get this done quickly because my car won't last much longer.

Marshall Is Off To DC

After nearly a year of planning and waiting Marshall is off on his school trip to DC.  The trip is a packed trip that looks like it is going to be very tiring.  They leave this morning at 2am from Lowden, drive to Chicago, get a 7am plane to DC, land and start touring until 8pm tonight.  He is going to get to see an awful lot but the trip sounds tough.  I'm sure when he gets back he is going to want to sleep for a week.  Good thing he has Monday off so he can sleep in after getting back on 11pm Sunday night.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Main Street Meeting

As if Jen doesn't have enough on her general workload and trying to start a new business, but her and her good friend Jamie have decided to apply to get Clarence on the Iowa Main Street Program.  Tonight was the town meeting with the local business owners and other interested to present the program and ask for pledges.  As you can see we actually had a pretty good turn out and had a lot of pledges including some rather large ones.  With these two driving the train I have no doubt we will get on.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Track Meet Night

This afternoon/evening Marshall has another track meet over in Stanwood this time.  Unlike the rest of the meets this one had great weather and was a perfect night to be outside spectating.  Tonight Marshall had a huge break through and beat someone in the 100 meter dash.  All season long he has trying his hardest to beat someone and tonight he finally did it!  I was so happy for the kid, he tries really hard but just doesn't have a fast gene.  He's kind of like Rudy, a whole lot of heart but very little raw talent.  One step at a time and soon enough he will be leading the pack

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Dinner With Grandma

For Easter Dinner today we headed over to the assisted living center and had lunch with Grandma Eula.  It's always a joy to go over and see Grandma especially on holiday's.  What makes it even better is the assisted living center makes spectacular food.  Worked out well all around, we had a good dinner, got to see Grandma, and Jen didn't have a huge dinner to make and clean up.  Hell we will have to spend every holiday here.

Easter Morning

It's Easter Morning and believe it or not I'm going to be home the whole day, no flying out anywhere.  Pretty excited to get my first holiday in a while without travel or work lingering over me.  This morning we got up early to head to Sunrise Service at church, had breakfast at the church and then headed home for the big Easter Egg hunt.  Shockingly the dog this mess with any of the eggs while we were gone.  As you can see the boys had a good time hunting eggs and scored a whole bunch of Jelly Beans.  The plan for the rest of the morning is to relax a bit and then head over to Grandma's for lunch.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Birthday Lunch With Papa

This morning we got up at a decent time, piled in the car and headed to Ames to celebrate Papa's birthday at Hickory Park.  It's a long drive over here but you can't go wrong with a lunch at Hickory Park especially when you get there early in there is no wait.  The birthday lunch was a good time, even if Olivia was a bit of a grouch.  She is at that age right now where sitting happily through a lunch is difficult to do.  Sure glad the boys are beyond that and we "aren't staring down the barrel of a new baby"  ;-)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Working From Home

Ever since I got back from Germany, I've been spending a day or two a week working from home.  Since I have to get up pretty early in the morning and all of my meetings with the German's are video conferences it doesn't matter where I work from.  Ever since I spent some time getting it cleaned up, it's been a great place to work from.  I can get up, get right to work, get a lot done undisturbed and then pick the boys up from school.  Today after we picked the boys up we stopped by Grandma's for a quick visit before we headed home.  I have to say it sure is nice to be home again for a while.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Coe Honor Band

Once again this year Marshall was selected for the Coe Honor Band and today was his performance.  One of the stipulations I had when I headed on the golf trip after getting back from Germany was I would be back in time for this performance.  As you can see I came through and made it.  The concert was amazing, hard to believe that kids this young can sound as good as they do.  Marshall getting to be a part of this is a great experience because they get to work with some top quality directors and be part of a really good band.  I'm glad I was able to get back in time for this, it was worth it.  

Friday, April 07, 2017

Annual Ozarks Golf Trip

This weekend is the annual guys golf trip down to the Ozarks that I take with a bunch of my friends.  We leave early Thursday morning, golf Thursday afternoon, Friday, Saturday and then head back home Sunday morning.  This trip is always a great time and something I look forward to every year.  This year a couple buddies couldn't make it on the trip so it was only 6 of us and not the normal 8 but it was still fun, plus it meant we all got our own bed this year.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

New Bike

Today I took the day off work and headed up to Delafield Wisconsin Endurance House to pick up my new bike.  Pretty excited to get my new bike and get to training again for my half Ironman coming up in June.  This is a whole lot of bike for my out of shape butt so I'm going to really have to get to training hard to avoid embarrassing myself at my race!