Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Summer 2017, Part II

After watching a Cross Fit documentary ;) 
(Please ignore the messy room.  I won't even say it's not normally like this, bc it is)

I would have NEVER bought this obnoxious pink and purple toy if I wasn't a mom of five boys.  Having something so girly in my living room is like balm to cover up all the balls and cars and dirty socks.

One of the highlights of the summer was having the Cupps here.  I wish we could have seen more of them but every time I had the chance to chat with Jen, I left encouraged.

I don't know why I took this picture, but it's a typical Costco haul (actually this is only half of it).  And the lunch boxes are a sad reminder that school is coming :(

Packing up for Philmont, the father-son adventure of a lifetime.
One struggles to pack...

Another very easily and happily packs his things
(Two weeks worth of clothes are in that orange stuff sack!)

Weighing the pack.

Nathan is a literal monkey.

They looked forward to the 2017 baseball card pack coming out for about six months.  And today was the day.  They sit and for days take turns picking cards.  I love it!

MusiCamp was amazing.  Two helpers and two campers.  And it gave me a quiet week while Chris and Graham were gone.  

And then Asher flew to Colorado to be with my parents.  I intended to walk him to the gate but we ran out of time and he did it all by himself.  He was so confident.  I stood there and wondered how time had passed so quickly.

Lots of game playing while they were away.

Pictures that Asher was doing just fine with Grandma and Grandpa.

Golf is exhausting.

They came off the trail!  This was the first time we had seen or heard from them in 12 days!

They came back with packs FULL of dirty clothes and TONS of stories.  I'm seriously thankful they came back without any injury!

Last Race Trac refill of the summer... and we are sad that summer is coming to an end.

But first, a trip to Colorado!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

We were excited to get to Carlsbad.  School has just ended and having the whole summer in front of us was the best feeling.  I remember listening to U2 Joshua Tree all the way to the park from Lubbock.  It seemed the perfect landscape for it.
I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I wasn't expecting something so vast 750 (!) feet under the ground.  The rooms are massive!

We did a guided tour (King's Palace).  It was worth the $35 for all of us to hear more about the cave.  Our tour guide was VERY into caving and spent a lot of the tour telling us about how the cave was found and explored.  It really is something else.  I CANNOT imagine exploring without a flashlight.  At one point in the tour, he turned off the lights and it was something else.  Those few minutes of darkness seemed like forever.

Nathan was chosen to demonstrate how they got to the top of the cave.  Really fascinating, especially for my boys.  Also, notice Nathan's hat.

Listening intently to the ranger.

That hat, his favorite hat.  Nathan accidentally dropped it into the depths of the cave.  We couldn't reach it and they don't let you walk down there.  We all laughed bc it was a brand new hat to replace the one he had JUST lost.

We all shared two sandwiches to tide us over.  They have a tiny cafe down there and they sell water and sandwiches.  Joseph declared it the best ham sandwich he ever ate! ;)  I think he was just hungry, poor thing.

Since we went down the elevator, we hiked out of the natural entrance of the cave.  It was a steep climb but amazing.  I wish we would have hiked IN the natural entrance because it's that cool and worth it.  I said to Chris that if I lived here in Carlsbad, I would buy a national park pass and come here to do my exercise.  It's the perfect temperature down there, and dry, and you would have the best legs in the world hiking in and out of the cave 3x a week!

A selfie in every National Park.

Love these boys.  Love exploring with them and marveling at what God has made.

Guadalupe National Park

I have to admit that Guadalupe National Park wasn't on my radar as a National Park I wanted to visit. I'd heard of it but didn't even know it was in Texas (but I'm not from around these parts).  When we were planning our trip to Carlsbad, Asher asked me if we would do Guadalupe NP too.  I pulled out the map and what do you know??  It is super close to Carlsbad.  I'm a sucker for getting a pic in front of a national park sign... no matter what the cost ;)  So we worked a visit to Guadalupe into our very short trip.

We had to pull off the whole trip in 72 hours so we didn't have much time in Guadalupe.  In fact, we were probably only here a grand total of 3-4 hours.  It doesn't seem to be a popular park.  We were there on Memorial Day weekend and had the place to ourselves.  There is a little Visitor Center with a nice restroom and gift shop (and hopefully a rattlesnake bite kit!), but that's all.  There's no food or fanfare at all.  We chose to hike McKittrick Canyon because we were told it had the best views.  It was lovely.  I wasn't disappointed at all.  There were moments I felt like I was in Yosemite, just not as green and not quite as majestic, but still amazing.  

I do have to say that I was on the watch for rattlesnakes.  Big time.  If I was a rattlesnake, I would want to live in the Guadalupe Mountains.  So I was watching the path closely as the kids and I hiked. Some of the trail is nice and wide.  Some of the trail is narrow and that made me a little nervous.  I was trusting Boy Scout Graham who is very current on his first aid skills.  We didn't see a single snake and I was not disappointed about that either.
Tradition:  Sign pic... can you tell we are all very pale and haven't spent time at the pool yet?

One of my favorite things about National Parks is that they us proud to be Americans.

These flowers were scattered throughout the landscape and I was obsessed with them and took too many pictures.  But aren't they lovely?

The last time we were in a National Park, he was not taller than me!

His Dad hat.

Chris was laughing at me bc I had such a mom outfit on.  My pale legs don't make it any better.  In my defense, I didn't intend to wear tennis shoes, but again, the snakes made me want to pull out the close-toe shoes.  The fanny pack makes the outfit complete, I think ;) 

We decided we wanted to go back and hike the highest peak in Texas sometime soon.  But for this trip, McKittrick Canyon was good to us :)