Zip It Up

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Of course that’s me.  See the awesome fanny pack?:-)  and this is the story of how I got here….

Our summer traditions just keep coming!

This is Cousin Week

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which is a good natured competition with my sister-in-law to pull out all the stops and create the Best Week Ever!  We get to spoil our kiddos and promote some good old extended family bonding all at the same time.

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This goes all the way back to at least preschool.  I think it started with my son staying with my nephew for vbs and then moved right along to all 4 kids here for 5ish days and then same thing there every summer.

It is so key for the kids to be able to spend time with family… otherwise, if they end up on Dateline, YOU, PARENTS, alone will be blamed for whatever lands them in the hot seat with Lester Holt.  You gotta cover those bases!

I digress,

so, Cousin Week

As their summers got busier it became a little harder to find the time.  We made it just one week alternating here one summer and there the next.

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they all have goggles on because the fire pit was smoky.

Currently, we split.  Last summer I got two 5th grade girls while my sister-in-law had two 6th grade boys.  This summer I get the boys and she gets the girls.

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Salina 2016

I feel like it was easier to wow them as preschoolers; Kaleidoscope, camp at The Nelson or Soccer Camp, a different pool every day, bike rides, etc…

These days it’s a little tougher, but coming up with things to do with the girls isn’t too bad.  Last year they hosted the grand parents for a multi-course dinner party.

They planned the menu, did the baking and cooking, made centerpieces and everything.  We went to the fabric store to get materials for travel toiletry bags, got pedicures, painted at Grapes and Paints.  I braided my nieces hair… which I rule at!  It was all Totes Adorbz!

This summer, with the last week in June set aside and my daughter (thrilled beyond all get out to be) headed out for Cousin Week in Salina, I was wracking my brain for ideas to fill the week with my son and nephew here in KC.

That place where trains bring your food, not going to cut it anymore.

I gotta kick it up a notch.  I took them to a bar.

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Desperate times

Did I say bar?  I’m sorry, barcade.  Classic games, all ages ’til 8pm, unlimited play for 5 bucks.  This is at Tapcade, you should go, plus the food is good and I read a book the whole time.

Other big hit of the week and definite crowd favorite:

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zipkc.com

 

This isn’t cheap, but compared to 60 seconds of ifly it’s a great deal.  If you’re between 70 and 300 pounds, I would highly recommend it.  We all loved it, and I am a huge chicken!

Let the kids go first, so that they don’t have to witness your prayer swear breakdown… I kid, it wasn’t as bad as canoeing into a tree.  Although I thought hitting another one might put my jaw back where it goes.  Not a scratch from this though, but that first step off the platform takes a second of bravery for sure.

Here’s their video of somebody doing the one we did.  Our pics aren’t great, it was tough to focus on.

I’m totally counting this toward my midlife crisis!

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We had the best time and all three of us would totally go again.

Oh yeah, and since it’s the 4th… Happy 4th of July!

 

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Just Around the River Bend

I spent last weekend on a boy scout canoe trip.  Hub got to stay home alone, kind of a late Father’s Day gift.

population 5 to 500, huh

I wasn’t worried about taking both kids rolling on the river, since I had previous canoe training that involved going around buoys, getting flipped and swimming in my clothes… when I was an 11 year old.

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Unfortunately, since then most of my canoe experience has come from the viewing of cartoons.  I was ready to sing my heart out and avoid picking up any sort of raccoon or cebu hop ons.

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My daughter and I were the 1st canoe that capsized,

-we’re probably going to need a few of these-                          Image result for capsize badge

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But we were far from the last, which was oddly comforting.

I got some tough looking bruises and scrapes out of it though and a new phrase, prayer swear, that describes a paradoxical combination of words that may fly from your mouth involuntarily in the face of imminent doom!:)

We were actually mugged by THIS harmless looking, evil tree:

It punched me in the jaw and took both our sunglasses, a paddle and the kid’s water bottle.  Thankfully the camera, advil, etc… where in a ziploc belted to the boat, so I was still able to get this after picture: 

Fortunately, we were rescued by Eagle Scouts.  I tell ya, nothing beats travelling with an entourage of Boy Scouts.

You know, because they’re just so trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, er… sneezy, happy, gassy… well, no one’s perfect

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The rest of the day went a little smoother… after I grabbed somebody who actually knew what they were doing to tell me everything they know about canoeing.

Still, if we got close to anything, my daughter would just yell, “help!  my mom doesn’t know what she’s doing!!”

I told her to stop attracting attention…

when you float trip, there are just some strange rangers out there

Pretty sure I saw a small child being towed behind a tube in an inflatable cooler.

Also, we had a group of young ladies/river sirens, whose conversation was very colorful, that got started right around the same time we did, (9a.m. / Happy Hour).

They sported an impressive array of patriotic bikinis, which was perfect since we were rolling with a bunch of 11 to 17 year old boys.

So, my son had opted out of co-canoeing with me and sis and went with other canoe buddies (that didn’t capsize immediately).

Probably a good thing in the end.  I think our kids, right now, sharing a canoe might have been a bad idea at best… at worst degenerated pretty quickly into a full on Dr. Seuss situation… kind of a paddle battle, puddle muddle.  Although, if I remember right, that one took place in a bottle.

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anyway,

here’s my girl in a pretty chilly spring

She’s so cute!  It wasn’t easy all day trying to line her up with all those low hanging trees.

The canoeing definitely wears them out though.  Most of the kids end up looking like this:

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So Tired… Zzzzzzz…

Of course, I ended up looking a little more like this:

 

This might need a better story   …  I cut off the Haskin’s Canoe provoking Nanette’s River Rage.  That and all the hot sun and moonshine of the day precipitated the yelling of some heavily accented challenges, “Kiss My Country …”  Things quickly escalated, gauntlets (I mean coozies) were thrown and  I blacked out after she hit me with a banjo.  Yeah, that’s why you should always  keep your life jacket on Image result for smile colon parenthesis

vay cay wrap up

The 6th night of our vacation was spent in Kernville, CA.

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Night number 7, was spent in Vegas

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We like to mix it up.

So, again

Night Number 6

Night Number 7

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In Between, we went here:  

Our last National Park for this trip, which means we’re all ready for the updated National Park Sign Picture Slideshow!

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Yay!

Anyway, We did like Death Valley.  Actually Hub wasn’t crazy about it, but I can’t remember why.  Oh wait

 Yes, it is pretty toasty and this was May 31st.  July is probably the worst time to go, when it averages 115 degrees with highs in the 120’s.  According to the National Park Service, Death Valley is the hottest place in North America.

In this below-sea-level basin, steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Yet, each extreme has a striking contrast. Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life survives in Death Valley.

Beauty isn’t everything!

My family didn’t even want to get out of the car for the sign picture, but finally my Hub and Daughter did walk around a little,

although it made me nervous for them to go too far.  I don’t think this park is meant to be travelled lightly.

I just want to blow up an image from the background of that photo:

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If you have binoculars and some patience the people watching here doesn’t disappoint, but I’d stay with the group.

Okay, so back to where we stayed in Kernville…

I was leary at first because it was right across the street from this:

Where I thought we were headed:(  Outdoor Cowboy Mannequins, Noooooo!!  In my opinion, there’s sort of a Fantasy Island level of creepiness that comes with that.

I should have known better.  Hubs travel agenting abilities never fail.  The Sequoia Lodge was totally sweet (no creepy mannequins anywhere on the property, just tons of those cute and pleasant chainsaw bear sculptures… everywhere). This place is probably even better if you actually fish!

but if you don’t fish, it’s still a great place to relax steps away from the rushing Kern River.

Our room had this on the wall:

OPEN ROAD BRANDS EMB TIN SIGN JEFF FOXWORTHY REDNECK HUNTER

I’m not embarrassed to admit that it made me Laugh Out Loud …twice.

A few of the other amenities… a fish cleaning shed, patios, gas & charcoal grills, other stuff and lots of those delightful wooden bears.

Amenities where we stayed in Vegas…

1,450 sq foot suite with floor-to-ceiling windows for panoramic views of the Las Vegas valley.  Two bedrooms, one with two Queen Beds and another with a King.  Four TVs, lots of pools… and toptional pools.  Walking through a giant casino, of course and an opportunity to answer lots of interesting questions.

For instance, What does toptional mean?

Can I have your credit card, we want to do the video games??

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Why are all the churches here super small?

Everything is so shiny!  There’s like no downside, right?

Our kids were curious to see Las Vegas, since we have some friends moving out there and it was a good place for us to fly out of.  We were ready to relax and wrap up our trip, and this was definitely something different:)

day 8
(6/1/17) flying back to sweet home kc, always a good thing!

here’s the trip map again, in case you forgot where we started…

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Sequoia and Kings Canyon

Facetious Mommy says by Six Days in nobody in this rented Sonata  really wants to be friends anymore.

We spent the morning in beautiful King’s Canyon National Park, before continuing on to Sequoia.

World’s Most Beautiful Church Camp, wedged between the parks

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IMG_1028Tree So Tall, that you’re Still Scrolling.

Okay, little bit more, little bit more aaand got  it!People admire views from within the narrow railing at the top of Moro Rock. Photo courtesy of Paul Johnson.Image result for sequoia national park

Since 1890 people have flocked to this California treasure Image result for sequoia national park vintage photogragh

for the same reason that it is still attracting travellers today… giant trees make everybody look skinny.

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Next, we split the distance between Sequoia and Death Valley at this place:

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So THEN…

On Day Image result for 5, we left Burbank and drove to Kings Canyon National Park.  It was a long, windingImage result for winding road sign  ride through NEverENding beauty… and orange groves and roadside funny business.

The highlight from this leg of the journey was stopping at a random spot for ice cream that ended up being worthy of its own roadtrip

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This place was in the census-designated place (CDP) of Strathmore, CA and was super-amazing!  A Must Do, if you’re anywhere close.

We eventually meandered Image result for winding road signour way onward to the park

we’re getting soaked.

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So,   Image result for roaring waters capri sun         kind of a theme for the next few days.

Plus, I had even been reading

Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin.

We stayed at John “Related image”  Muir Lodge that night.

Image result for muir lodge kings canyonNo A.C., but luckily each room is furnished with a fun, old, super-heavy, oscillating metal fan Image result for muir lodge kings canyon fanthat makes a unique variety of, uh, whitish noise… It’s similar to one of those little sleep noise machines from The Sharper Image.  The main difference however, is that instead of ocean waves, rain fall, etc… you’re lulled to sleep by jet engine,  strange clicking, oncoming train type sounds. It was very effective in drowning out the bothersome noises that you usually have to put up with when sharing a room with your whole immediate family.

 

 

We also had fun with the eco water timer in their shower. Image result for shower hourglass challenge water conservation

Like Sands Through The Hourglass.

Coming up; Van Meter SoCal Roadtrip, continuing to put the odd in odyssey, Sequoia… uh, Kernville, Death Valley, Updated Slide Show of Family National Park Sign Pictures, and Vegas baby!

 

 

Universal Ups & Downs

 

Day 4  and we were up bright and early, headed to

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This is where we learned that if our family played quidditch, one out of four of us might then spew our every flavoured beans in the closest Hogwartian, magical trash can.

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Prepare

To

Feel

So Terrible!

 

We might have also shut down the Simpsons Ride… it was a little more Krusty after we left.

before

… and after

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but we did get to see the Magnum PI car, the set where JB Fletcher rode her bike and the Water World Show.  

Overall we gave Universal Hollywood a big thumbs up

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… more road trip soon to come:)

 

 

 

 

 

Vacation Part 2

The morning of Day 3 we were ready to pack up and head out for a scenic drive up the coast.  We passed beautiful beaches and headed on up to L.A. so that we could see what that was all about.

On our way, we started noticing some odd roadkill.

rikki-tikki-roadkill

toy plushies

Probably a story there.  As we drove along we noticed; Image result for ernie dollImage result for mickey dollImage result for minnie dollImage result for rainbow dash dolland a Image result for minion doll.  They were all, in that order, on the road or smashed up against the concrete barriers.  I wish i’d grabbed the camera, but I kept thinking that we wouldn’t see another one.

I guessed that maybe someone was moving and had them in an open truck bed, but Hub assumed that stressed out parents on a roadtrip were probably winging them out the car windows one at a time whenever someone in the back whined, “how much further?!” or “He’s touching me!”

Lunch Break

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The nice people at IN-N-OUT even let us use their bathroom.  “Show us the food you’ve purchased here and we’ll give up the code.”

Awesome!

It was actually pretty tough to get in or out of that place.  It seemed pretty popular, which makes sense because the food was excellent.

We continued to make our way to a Burbank Marriott by the most roundabout ways possible, seeing fancy Beverly Hills houses, Mulholland Drive, Rodeo, Wilshire, Santa Monica blvd. and all that business.

Here is a picture of the kids in front of the Hollywood sign:

If I had the ability to add a little arrow that would definitely help with locating the sign, but since I don’t have those capabilities finding it can be a fun game for you.

More Road Trip still to come:)