Since I'm the one who took the pictures, I guess I get to tell the story.
Our trip rocked. Start to finish, it was awesome. That's my story.
The trains we see around here are pretty dull. The boys got a kick of of all the colors on this one! They were fantastic little car buddies.
We finally moved them into the back so they could be together. Totally worth the giant pain it was to buckle them way back there!
Not that they aren't funny.
We made it to Chimney Rock in time to set up our tents and get to Bayard for dinner by 6.
No reason to mention the bad gasoline we got in Kearney that triggered the "check engine" light and a few hours of stress on our part. I didn't take any pictures of us barely getting the van to start, praying with the kids, asking some truckers for help, Mitch buying an additive at the Dollar General two minutes before it closed while I waited for dinner at The Branding Iron with five hungry, tired, dirty little travelers.
Our favorite quote from dinner, "Rugger, you are no longer allowed to order off the kids menu." -Me. I am in no danger of starving to death, but for Pete's sake, that kid ends up eating half my meal every time. :)
Chimney Rock was seriously gorgeous. There was a slight breeze, and it wasn't so hot once the sun went down. The kids had a blast running around like wild beasts, which we let them do because there was no. one. for. miles. No one! So fun. We played a round of UNO in the girls' tent before we called it a night.
Less than an hour later, we were all in the van for the night. If we'd had our "wits about us", we might have grabbed our stuff out of the tents before we abandoned everything to the rain and wind. There were no wits at the time tho, just a couple of completely freaked out kids and semi-panicked parents. Once we were in the van and discovered (thank you, 3G) that it was just rain and not a tornado, Mitch went out to see if there was anything salvageable. Nada. The flattened tents were in standing water by then.
The little boys slept great. Ryleigh didn't. Reise was kind of in and out. Rugger...got sick at 2am with what turned out to be a 24hr stomach bug. No pics of that, tho it was pretty impressive. How the rest of us managed to avoid it, and how he made it into a bag every single time is no less than a modern day miracle.
But seriously, soo pretty. Right? Would have hated to miss that view. Wouldn't it have been boring if we had just spent an uneventful night of uninterrupted sleep in our tents? We might have woken up well rested, packed up, and headed towards the mountains.
We might have never made it to this fun little Nebraska landmark! How cool is Carhenge?
Knowing it was about 45 minutes from our camp site, we used the time to lay out our soaked gear to dry enough to roll up and throw into the Xcargo (nice purchase, husband!).
"See ya later, Pioneer Crossing. We'll be back, after we buy a camper." -The Sallingers
Hellooooo, Colorado Mountains. Hello temps in the 70's, low humidity, and relatively tiny mosquito population. What's not to love?
Those boys crack me up, hiding their sandwiches behind their backs. Not doing it super well. Can you hear me? "Rowen! Maeson! The sandwiches, put them behind your backs! No, beeehiiiind!" Hahahaha!
Loved going out on the deck with sweatshirts on to eat junk for breakfast. Can we talk about how much I love Poptarts? They are basically nutritionally worthless and I almost feel like I'm abusing my kids by letting them work their way into a meal. The guilt I feel is quickly quieted by that flaky, sweet, frosted, pastry perfection. What fun we have on vacation!
Ryleigh claims that mismatched flip flops are a "style choice", and evidently it works for Maeson.
Our jaunt to Carhenge basically took care of our soaked gear, but we didn't think an extra day on the deck would hurt anything.
In the meantime, we found this little historical spot (South Park, CO) just a few minutes from our cabin.
I'm not a big history buff (yawn!), but I loved these buildings from the 1800's.
We didn't really plan ahead much for this trip. I found our cabin on craigslist (thanks for that suggestion, Stef!), but otherwise, it was fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants for the most part. Honestly, probably the way to go with this many little kids.
The kids each brought saved birthday money with them to spend on our trip. Ryleigh really wanted to ride horses! We found a place that had ponies for the little guys, and trail rides for the two big kids. Reise was actually old enough to go on an hour-long ride, but thankfully we decided to keep her back. She barely lasted 20 minutes on the pony :) No WAY she would have made it an hour.
Ryleigh loved that trail ride, hands down her favorite part of our vacation.
Reise got a small horse, so she felt like a big kid in the end. Win!
Reise and Rowen quit pretty early, but Maeson could have ridden for hours on end.
I let Reise take pictures with my camera while she and Rowen waited for me to finish up Maeson's turn with C.C. I think she took almost 150 pics.
Reise's and Rowen's ponies, Mighty Mouse and Little Red. Rowen renamed his pony "Dragon Horsey".
Can you say HEAVEN? 56 degrees at 5pm. This is where I was meant to spend my summers, I'm pretty sure. Wonder how we could work that out???
A thunder storm rolled in between 3 and 5 every afternoon we were there. They were amazingly loud, and so fun to watch from the cabin! Unfortunately, we didn't know about the thunderstorm thing when we left our basically dry sleeping bags and pillows out all day. Blast!
Thankfully, we were in super flexible mode, and made a morning out of driving to Frisco to the closest laundry mat. While we were there, we booked a pontoon rental for the next day out of the Frisco Marina and had lunch on a gorgeous patio. Bam! Fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants.
We are pretty sure this free gondola ride was Rowen's favorite part of the trip.
It took us up to Peak 8, and there was snow up there!
Can you see us? Me, Rowen, Maeson and Reise in the middle of that picture. Mitch and Rugger were way up on top. Ryleigh was somewhere in between.
Rugger brought that rock home and put it in a box in the garage. We suggested he put it in the yard, he thought it'd be safer in a box.
Mitch totally mocked me for putting together a family cherry seed spitting contest. He was just scared. For good reason!
I could wake up to that view every day. What a great cabin, we'd go back!
After that first incredible night of
Day 5 of living the life of leisure. This day, on a boat!
The kids have no idea (and I didn't take any pictures!) of the mangled rudder and prop shaft we ended up replacing on that boat. Dangitbobby! We had a blast on that boat. We could either spend the money and be upset about it all day, or spend the money and move along with life. Either way, we've spent the money! Mooooooving on...
After that painful credit card swipe and a few hours on the road, we didn't think we could handle another night vanning it. The campground we had a reservation at looked pretty sketchy, the sky looked kind of dark, and there was a hotel with a pool and free hot breakfast just down the road.
We just LOVED that the winds came up and it poured rain about two hours after we checked in. Storm away! We're inside eating pizza and jumping in the pool.
Best big brother, ever. What a sweetheart. Despite all his loud, annoying, pestering, antagonizing ways, he looks after his siblings without prompting.
Gosh, how many times did I see this coming at me from the gas station? A hundred? It's safe to say most folks we know wouldn't sign up to take five kids to a public restrom once, let alone what we just did. Totally worth it!
These guys traveled like champs. We had a few books on tape, some Legos, Ryleigh read, there were snacks...
Almost 40 hours, we spent in that van over the last week. Good times, baby.