Category Archives: Vacation

Back to summer…

So I’m slightly pathetic in the follow through department.  It’s a flaw.  I’ll admit it.  Moving on…

On a particularly hot day we went to check out the Opry Mills Mall where the have a Gibson guitar factory.

Pip was in heaven and while he was dreaming, I took DQ around the rest of the mall.  We were walking towards the food court to find some lunch when all of a sudden an explosion of pink blew us over as we walked past one of the stores.  I willed DQ not to notice, but alas she did.  There was a store (Libby Lu) that was completely devoted to spreading the message of the Sharpay in High School Musical.  That message being, “I want more”.  I thought she was going to hyperventilate and because I’m a sucker we went inside and I got her a replica microphone of the one Sharpay uses in the movies.

After the mall we went across the street to the Grand Ole Opry.  Not being big country music fans we didn’t shell out the cash to go see a show, but we were able to walk around.  While walking around we noticed a small gathering of people and a film crew.  Knowing this may mean we get to see someone famous we went to take a look.  They were filming for the finale of the show Nashville Star and this guy looked like he might be someone so I took a picture.  Right after I snapped the picture another guy tried to take one and the “lady with the walkie talkie” told him no pictures were allowed.  HA!  I really felt like gloating and sticking out my tongue at her but I refrained.  The guy in the picture is Coffey.

On the same property is the Gaylord hotel which is huge and very beautiful.  Here are some pics from there:

Other than all the sightseeing we enjoyed a lot of leisurely time spent with these little cuties:

I mean really.  Isn’t the cuteness too much?  There was a lot of guitar playing and singing:

And fighting spiders:

We spent evenings chatting over margaritas, wine and cookies while spotting fireflies flitting through the yard.  We watched good movies and bad movies and spent time soaking up the southern sunshine at the YMCA pool.  Before we left Jen had to make sure we saw what she calls “The Redneck House”.  100_2868

It was truly a sight to behold and you really can’t get the full effect until you see it big.  Go ahead and click on the photo to see it full size.  Just…wow.  I’m not sure if that thing in the front is a homemade pool or what, but it certainly goes well with all the animal heads and confederate flag.

We were very sad to leave and spent the better part of the drive home just being morose.  After the experience with the hotel on the way to Nashville, we decided to drive 15 minutes off the freeway to stay in a Hyatt Place in Overland Park, Kansas on the way home.  It was absolutely wonderful and $30 cheaper than the dumpy one on the way there!  Seriously, if you ever have the choice to stay in a Hyatt Place you should.  They did not pay me to say that.  I wish they did, but that is just pure customer satisfaction right there people.

In Hays, Kansas we stopped at a McDonalds to get sundaes and parked in the parking lot to eat them.  When we rolled the windows down a fly flew in and then it began…TM started screaming like the fly was in his face making death threats and this alarmed DQ so much that she joined in the scream fest.  Pip and I just looked at each other in the front seat and laughed because really?  A fly?  After said fly left our car to go terrorize some other innocent citizen, they both stopped and DQ said to TM, “It’s ok TM, you don’t have to tell me that I’m welcome in your world.”  I take this to mean she will join him in his world if his world invovles anything having to do with dramatics and completely over the top reactions to mundane things.

Such a good time.  We loved it so much that we plan to go back next summer and bring more friends with us.  May you all be so lucky to have a Miller family in your lives.

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What we did on our Summer Vacation – Part Deux

Ok, we left off as we were driving into Nashville…that part is not particularly eventful so I’ll move on.

We really loved Nashville and if presented with the opportunity we would probably move there without a second thought IF Jen and Chad were still there, which is doubtful seeing as how they are freakin’ nomads!  They do provide us with interesting vacation choices though :).  The day after we arrived we visited the Nashville Farmer’s Market which was oh so fun and filled with photo ops.

They had a bazillion peaches which was a treat because they aren’t in season here until mid-August (our trip was in mid-July…no comments about the time between then and now please).  We bought 500 pounds and went home and made a fresh peach pie.

We also got some of these lovely purple bell peppers.  Purple Peppers.  Say that 10 times…fast.  I’m not a pepper fan.  In fact I find them to be “the ruiner of all good things”, but Jen put them in a ravioli pesto dish that she made and I LOVED them.  Too bad I’ll probably never see them again.

We also bought enough tomatoes, various peppers and onions for Pip to make a vat of salsa.  So yummy!  We went to the Farmer’s market with a friend of our hosts who gave us the lowdown on some Tennessee history.  In Colorado you are taught about the Civil War but we found that we really know nothing.  People are passionate about the Civil War down there.  And we learned not to call it the Civil War as we were told, “There’s a Civil War memorial.  Well, the North calls it the Civil War, but there was nothing civil about it.  It was The War Between the States.”

In addition to various historical information we learned how to pronounce things correctly.  Nashville is pronounced Nashvull and a major street there called Lebanon is pronounced Lebnin.  Let that be a lesson to you.  That was not a lesson to DQ and TM.  On the way home from church on Sunday in Nashville we asked the kids what they learned in Sunday School.  DQ said she forgot.  We said, “Come on.  You must remember something.  It was just 10 minutes ago.”  She replied, “Yeah…I didn’t understand a word they said”.

The graveyards were of particular interest to Pip, as he’s really into morbid and creepy.  He suckered Chad into breaking into a confederate graveyard under cloak of darkness to take pictures.  I don’t think I’ve mentioned that Pip is into night photography.  He has to set up his camera on a tripod and leave the shutter open for minutes at a time to get a good exposure in the pitch black creepy night.  They hopped the fence into the confederate graveyard and just after Pip set up a shot they saw headlights coming towards them…you see, the graveyard is part of the Hermitage grounds.  The Hermitage being the former home of President Andrew Jackson.  Knowing they were in there illegally and not wanting to get arrested for being…well…morbid and creepy, they dropped to the ground and rolled away from the lights TOWARD the graves.  It was really dark and Pip could not see where he was rolling until he slammed his lip into a gravestone.  He scooched behind it and lay ON A CONFEDERATE GRAVE.  At night!  Let it be know you will never find me lying on graves, Confederate or otherwise, at any time of the day but ESPECIALLY at night.  That should really go without saying because who does that?  Pip and Chad, that’s who.  The security guard stopped and shone his lights on the graveyard but left without incident.  Probably because he saw one of them rolling and thought, “There is no way I’m getting out of this truck in the middle of the night to search graves for something I just saw moving towards them and disappearing.  I don’t get paid enough for this.”  Because that’s what I would be thinking.

You might think that that would be enough graveyard experience for them, but no.  A few nights later they went to Mount Olivet cemetery which is ginormous and dates back to…a really long time ago.  Did you like that?  How’s that for specifics.  I do my research people.  In this cemetery they have not just headstones but also mausoleums, statues and an old chapel.  All the better for taking pictures!  Here is one of the really creepy pictures Pip was able to get while there:

Pip said that he could barely see Chad standing a couple feet away.  He also noticed that though they were talking and acting normally, they were both constantly scanning the field of graves.  You think?!  Pip said he was really creeped out there because he kept hearing what sounded like two rocks banging together but no sign of animal or any other movement.  I would love to say that it was Jen and I hiding behind a headstone and banging rocks together but again…there is absolutely no way you would ever get me in a cemetery DURING THE NIGHT.

Oddly (or maybe not so) Pip’s paranormal experiences in Nashville do not end there.  Our family decided to visit the Hermitage while we were there, since it was right across the street from Jen and Chad’s house and since we had checked out a book on Andrew Jackson for the kids and read it on the way there.  If you’re ever in Nashville, I would say that the Hermitage is a must.  It was really great.  They had little headsets to wear that told you about various points in your tour and separate talks for the kids.  They loved it.  Here are some pics:

That last pic where Pip and the kids are standing in front of what looks like and is the grave of Andrew Jackson and his wife Rachel?  That’s the weird part.  We were all standing there and since Pip likes to take his time at places like this (don’t even get me started on museums), I took the kids and we went to look for butterflies and bees in the surrounding garden.  Pip came over a few minutes later and asked if I sent DQ over to get him.  I told that I had her with me the whole time.  He said, “Huh, that’s weird.”  I asked him what he was talking about and he informed me that while he was standing there he felt someone come up next to him and put their arm around him.  He thought it was DQ coming to get him and told her, “I’ll be there in a minute.”  He turned to look and there was NO ONE THERE.  My personal opinion is that it was Rachel Jackson and she couldn’t help herself because Pip’s so cute.  That or the confederates were pissed off and wanted to freak him out.  Either is entirely believable.

To be continued yet again…(it was a long trip).

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What we did on our Summer Vacation-2008 edition

At long last…the annual “What we did on our Summer Vacation.”

I figured I should get this out before it’s Fall, and since I’m now under a deadline, and since I procrastinate,
I’m more likely to actually finish.

This Summer’s vacation was a cross country (almost) road trip to Nashville, Tennessee.  It would be a lie if I
said we went because we really wanted to see Nashville, because we really went to see these people:

Because we love and miss them.  I use present tense because we still love and miss them (weeping and gnashing of teeth).

Our trip started out with me freaking out because we didn’t have our hotel’s address and reservation number, as our internet decided to go down the night before we left and lo and behold was still down the next morning.  It also started with a drive through the local Starbucks to feed our bad moods from internet issues and lack of sleep, and with that the usual OCD that Pip displays with his drink sleeve lining up with the logo on the cup and being centered with the drinking spout (I’m sure that’s not the proper name for it, but I don’t care.  That’s what I’m calling it.)  We had driven about 1/2 mile before the kids started to complain that they were hungry.  I very stupidly (I blame the lack of sleep) decided that they could tough it out until we got to the next major town to eat.  You see even though I know from experience that hungry kids on a road trip leads to unpleasant stomach issues that then lead to unpleasant mess and smell in the car, I thought some paltry snacks would solve the problem.  This led to holding DQ’s ponytail and rubbing her back while she bent over a toilet in McDonald’s in Limon, CO.  Her nausea passed without incident though and she ate all her pancakes and orange juice and kept them down.  So yea for our side.   It was also at this time (70 miles and over an hour into the trip) that we realized we forgot to put ice in the cooler.  Warm mayo anyone?  We ingested said mayo in tuna sandwiches at a rest area in…somewhere in Kansas.

It was during this lunch break that I realized that one can of tuna does not so much feed a family of 4.  Pip and I had a very thin spreading of tuna on our sandwiches.  They really could not be called tuna sandwiches so much as bread with some tuna flavor.  Pip was now questioning my ability to pack meals for road trips.  We arrived in Kansas City (well really Independence, Missouri) around 6 or 7. (see, this is what happens when you wait months to write about your vacation)  We met our friend “Stan the drummer man” for a lovely dinner at Denny’s by our hotel.  I left dinner early with the kids so they could swim in the pool before it closed.  For us and our bribery skills it is critical to not only get a hotel with a pool, but also get there in time to use it.  A word about the hotel: ewww.  We paid an exorbitant amount of money to stay in a hotel that should have been rented by the hour, and maybe was.  You know it’s not going to be a comfortable stay when your feet stick to the carpet.  The one plus was that there was a frozen custard place 20 steps from the hotel.  We split some custard and watched I Dood It, which we thoroughly enjoyed.  This hotel did have a decent breakfast (no Fruit Loops and Tang here).  Pip was nice enough to make waffles for us, but in so doing dropped the waffle mix on his shirt and wanted to change.  We had already packed the car.  Though annoyed that he would care about a couple of splashes of waffle mix on his shirt while he drove for 12 hours, it did not surprise me.  Pip has little patience for foreign items on his shirts.  When our kids were babies this intolerance was more pronounced.  If a microscopic bit of spit up landed on the back hem of his shirt, he would rip it off as if it was now contaminated with Agent Orange and was headed toward his bloodstream.  He wanted it off so quickly that he would very nearly forget to put the baby down first.  All while I’m standing there with my shirt dripping with all manner of baby waste.  I’m amazed he was able to look at me, let alone give me hugs and kisses.

After breakfast we set off to the nearest gas station where someone else pumping gas noticed that i was looking at a map and proceeded to ask Pip where we were going.  Pip told him we were headed to Nashville by way of St. Louis. He told Pip, “The difference between K.C. and St. Louis.  St. Louis is more of an East Coast mentality.  K.C. is more West Coast.”  I had to laugh because having lived in L.A. I can assure you that Kansas City is most definitely not “West Coast”.  This is not necessarily a bad thing.  This is often some of my favorite parts of vacation: the people you meet (or that Pip meets really) along the way.  Great stuff.  We drove through St. Louis and were awed by the Arch and excited to show the kids the Mississippi River.

I think Pip was sad to leave Missouri because he had so much fun making fun of the name.  It started out like “Mizzeruh”, and progressed (or digressed) into Mizzer then Mizz them Muh ending with just Mmm, all said like a drunk Barry White.  He used it every time he saw the name, as in “Oh look!  It says The Pride of Mmm…”.  I on the otherhand was thrilled to drive into Illinois so as not to listen to that anymore.

After the previous day’s lunch experience, we didn’t want to relive the sandwiches with essence of tuna.  Instead we went to Taco Bell.  This was a bad move as you can never tell if DQ is going to like something from one day to the next and even though she previously loved TB, she decided to make this lunch a living hell by deciding that no she did not want a bean burrito, she wanted pizza.  Because Taco Bell loves me, this one was of the Taco Bell/Pizza Hut variety.  She got a cheese pizza…that after 3 bites decided she didn’t like and wanted a burrito. It is these times that I have to physically restrain myself from reaching across the table to strangle her.  And in case you’re wondering, she did not get a burrito.  She ate 3/4 of the pizza, but not without making positively sure we knew how abusive we were by forcing her to eat what she threw a fit in order to get.  I think she stopped crying by the time we got to Rand Lake (Rend Lake?) in southern Illinois for another rest.

It was a really beautiful lake, but also REALLY hot and humid.  I actually think the heat and humidity was worse there than anytime we were in Nashville.

I had been trying to get pictures of all the Welcome to… signs as we crossed into each different state, but
missed Kentucky’s entirely because as we crossed we came along side a truck that was truly fascinating.  It was old and large with faded red paint and a gun rack in the back window.  The man driving was sunburnt, shirtless, and had a mullet.  I do not make these things up.  I wanted to get a picture, but Pip didn’t want him to have to use his gun rack…on me.  Once we were in Kentucky, Pip took the opportunity to blurt out “Gettin’ Lucky in Kentucky” every chance he could get.  Fortunately, we were only in Kentucky for a short time.

To be continued…(because it’s been two hours and my fingers are tired)

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Where did I go?

Still here. Just trying to organize my life. In the meantime, as a preview to “the annual vacation” posts, here is some footage of our drive. 🙂 I’ll be back.

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What I’ve Been Doing this Summer

I know I’ve been absent, and I’m not really sure anyone even reads this blog anymore but here’s a recap of the last 3 weeks or so.

The day after school got out I drove the kids to my parents’ house where they stayed for the week.  We have a pretty great drive to get to Gramma and Gramps’ house.  It is truly “over the river and through the woods”.  It was beautiful.

I stayed a couple of days and got to see my sister Donna’s book signing.  A children’s book that she illustrated was just published.  Her first!  Here’s the link to the site to buy “The Extraordinary Hat”.

While the kids were at their Grandparents’ being spoiled with activities such as “let’s pretend we’re camping in the front yard”,

I was at home Spring Cleaning (a little late) and tending to some unfinished projects:

That is the shirt Katja for a little miss Gloria.

I finally painted TM’s room.  I’ve had the paint since we moved in but no large block of time that was kid free to get it done.  He likes maps and cars, if that isn’t obvious. 🙂  I still need to replace the pink curtain with a more boyish one and when I do I’ll give you all a photo tour of the room since there’s lots of stuff that I made and haven’t shared here yet.

Since the kids have been home there has been swimming lessons (needs a whole post of it’s own) and Library and tending to the garden.  Today we made a little house for the fairies that choose to make our garden their home. 🙂

We are thoroughly enjoying our backyard and will be headed off for our annual road trip soon.  Stay tuned next month for that one!

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Okay. The conclusion of Day Three.

So we are on our way to Abbotsford, and I have to say, it is one of the most beautiful drives I’ve ever done.  I swear that every house looked like it came straight out of a fairy-tale.  And the scenery!  I’ve never seen so much green.  The pictures I have were taken out of my window as we drove by, so not great, but you get the idea…

So, we get to the Canada border (here’s where it gets good).  As we drive up through the beautiful countryside, I’m creating all kinds of lovely delusions of getting to the border and the Canada border people are all going to come and greet us and welcome us into their country with maybe a rousing rendition of “Oh Canada!”, and we’ll all smile and say “Thank you!  We’ll be sure to come back and spend our tourist money here again!”.  Even as we sat in the not too terribly long line, I kept this thought process going, even though I could plainly see that no one was getting serenaded in front of us.  We get to the border agent and here is the interaction:

Female Border Agent: “Passports.”

Pip:  “Here you go.  (big smile)”

Border Agent:  (with extreme amounts of venom) “Why are you here?”

Pip:  (somewhat confused)  “We’re here for her Nephew’s wedding. (Points to me)”

Border Agent:  (spitting out words like they are poison)  “Where are you going?”

Pip:  (pointing and now fumbling over words)  “We’re uh…just up…um…Abbotsford.” Which is a foot from where our car is currently parked.

Border Agent:  (Sprouting little horn buds on her forehead)  “How long are you staying?”

Pip:  (getting the feeling that one minute may be too long)  “Um…uh…till Saturday…no…not…Sunday…sorry…Sunday.”

Border Agent:  (now showing a forked tongue)  “Did you bring a gift?”

Pip:  (whose palms are starting to sweat)  “Um, yes we brought a giftcard.”

Border Agent:  (barking now)  “Is that all!?”

Pip:  (now giving second thought to our choice of gift, and trying to keep my jaw off the floor from absolute shock and horror that this was not turning out at all how I had envisioned.)  “Yes?” (really more of a question)

Border Agent:  (handing back our passports with hands that have somehow grown freakishly long sharp nails)  “Here!”

That’s it.  No “Welcome to Canada.  Enjoy your stay.”  No stamp on the passport to show everyone.  No, not even a serenade.  It took the rest of the afternoon to stop our uncontrollable trembling.

We arrived at our hotel about 2 minutes later, and I feel the need to mention this here.  I have never stayed in a hotel, much less a Super 8, where the staff treated the guests so great.  I highly recommend staying there if you ever go to Abbotsford, B.C..  Maybe the manager of that Super 8 should go down the street to the border station, and show the devil woman how it’s done.

Shortly after we arrived, and I re-did my hair with the blow dryer I could not use that morning, we went to the wedding rehearsal.  DQ did a fantastic job of learning what she was supposed to do as a flowergirl, with plenty of instruction from James (the man I hope DQ finds an exact replica of someday).

Later that evening we went to the rehearsal dinner.  This was the best dinner I’ve ever had…ever.  I have lots of pics of this one so bear with me here…Seriously the best fun I’ve had in a long time.  The restaurant was Quazines.

The meal came in courses.  This is the appetizer.  It is a prawn wrapped in prosciutto and then sprinkled with whatever is the yummiest thing you can think of.

Next there was a salad, that I was so taken with, I completely forgot to get a photo.  It was a piece of seared Ahi Tuna with beet something and the voices of a thousand angels resounded from within it.

Then there was the main course, a (some kind of nut) crusted Halibut, with veggies.  Also fantastic.

And last was Creme Brulee looking oh so delicious.

We got back to the hotel and went to bed around Midnight.  We were wiped.  But it was a good wiped.  This day ended MUCH better than the previous.

I’m starting day four now, but will not post until tomorrow, and since it will be mostly done, I’m actually serious about that.

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What I did on my Summer Vacation…Day Two (and a little of Three)

On Day number two we woke up to a lovely continental breakfast of fruit loops and packaged cinnamon rolls.  Not great, but (trust me) definitely not the worst.  We started out and quickly came upon a “Yellow” truck (a semi from the Yellow trucking company).  This started the quest to get a picture of a “yellow” truck.  It took several attempts (and several different trucks), but we finally were able to best depict this picture caption:

You sit in a Truck of Lies!

Yes people, that’s right.  We amuse ourselves on long roadtrips by taking pictures of semis.  Semis that are obviously orange and call themselves yellow.  Bold faced lying semis.   I can only imagine what the drivers were thinking when everytime we passed them, we were pointing the camera out the window at their truck and/or laughing hysterically.  I like to think this keeps us young.  Others may be thinking “early stages of dementia” but I prefer young. 

We stopped for lunch in Baker City, Oregon and it was one of the cutest little towns I’ve ever seen.  We ate lunch at a picnic table in front of the library.  No gang signs needed here, even though we were now decidedly closer to the “westside”.

Our kids are the best travelers in the universe.  They were so good we are now thinking of strapping them down in chairs at home to see if they will behave similarly.  DQ has that look on her face because she’s singing along to High School Musical…which we heard more times than we can count…and that we (don’t tell anyone) actually enjoyed most of the time.

When we entered into Washington State, Pip was starting to get a little shack happy and the sign pointing to Walla Walla set him off: 

When we drove into Seattle, one of our most very favorite songs came on the radio “Such Great Heights” by The Postal Service.  Said song is NEVER played on the radio in Denver, so we took it as a sign that Seattle was going to be perfect for us and to us.  Fast Forward one hour and we were done.  Here was our trip planning: 

First night-reservation at the Super 8 in Burley

Second night-Fly by the seat of our pants in Seattle.  Why this is not a good option: We’ve never been in Seattle.  We don’t know anything about Seattle or where there might be hotels anywhere near anyplace we might want to be in Seattle.  Winging it in an unfamiliar large city.  Having several “musts” on your hotel amenity list, but with no reservation.  We drove into Seattle at 6:30 p.m.  At approximately 8:30 p.m. we were still driving around looking for a hotel.  We were in Lynnwood and after driving past the, oh 20th sex shop,we got back on the freeway heading north.  We ended up throwing our required amenity list out the window because we were desperate to find a place that had a vacancy, and found a Travelodge with available rooms in Everett.  It was now after 9:00 p.m.  We had hoped to explore Seattle a bit, and might have done so, if I had been smart enough to make a reservation.  But no.  Here we were in our ant infested room in Everett.  It was even better the next morning when the electricity went out before I could blow dry my hair.   We woke to the gourmet offerings of the continental breakfast (Fruit Loops and Tang-I told you it could get worse) and decided to skip it for McDonald’s (because you can’t get more gourmet than that).  The cashier (there was only one) at McDonald’s was so grouchy and jumpy that she even barked at the people who were sympathizing with her.  After getting our food and receipt, Pip came to the table and said, “I think I know why that cashier was so jumpy.  Look who she has to answer to.”  And handed me this receipt:

I wonder if her head exploded when she had to change the receipt paper (notice tell-tale pink line) with the line going out the door.

We decided to give Seattle another go on the way back home, and set out for Abbotsford, B.C. which I think I’ll write about in a separate post, since it was the destination and since this one is sooooo long. 

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