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Archive for June, 2008

Taking Chances

13 years ago today I met the love of my life.

I was still married at the time, but my marriage had been falling apart for years. That 4th of July week-end in 1995 we went to an Army reunion, where a few people who were stationed in Germany got together in Tennessee at one of the couples’ houses. It was the second annual reunion and that year Greg was there, too. I’ll never forget the first moment when I saw him. It was love at first sight, and he “had me at hello” 😉 We didn’t exactly spend time together that week-end, but did find time to chat here and there. All pretty innocent (with my ex there and all!). Everyone who came exchanged addresses and over the next few months, Greg and I kept in touch through letters, cards, and then phone calls, until one day he told me that I had a place to go if I needed to get out. So at the end of September 1995 he came to pick me up and drove to Maryland together. It was a big decision and I had no idea how things would work out, but it couldn’t be worse than the miserable marriage I was in.  It was the right decision, and not for one second have I ever regretted it. And now, 13 years later, we are still as happy as we were in the very beginning. Sometimes I can’t believe that we met so long ago, it seems like just yesterday… and other times it feels like we’ve known each other all our lives. And sometimes I wish that I could turn the clock back to June 30, 1995 and do it all over again – and not changing a thing! ♥


Built this birdhouse myself (came in a kit), painted it, and found it a place in one of our plum trees. So far none of the birds that we had to chase from our back porch have moved into it…. maybe next year?

2008 Vacation – part 5

…. and last part of our adventures.

June 17th we made one last vacation stop: the Petrified Forest. Greg asked me the day before to look on the map to see where exactly it is, and since we would be driving right past it, we figured we might as well spend some time there. We got there early in the morning and because we weren’t sure if the park would be open yet, we stopped at a huge gift shop that we spotted on the way to the park entrance, and that was already open for business this bright and early (I believe it was before 8 am). They had some gorgeous petrified wood. Some in big huge polished slabs that you could display, and some of it was made into tables. They cost thousands of dollars and probably weighed thousands of pounds… I don’t know how anyone who could afford to buy one, could actually get it home! The kids had fun, browsing through the store, too, and I think ended up with some kind of souvenir, although I can’t remember what. Then on we went to the State Park. We came to a visitors center/book store/Ranger station  and behind it was a path through a petrified forest, that we walked through.

It was a very hot day and we walked into the visitors center/book store/Ranger station  to cool off and look around. They had a few polished pieces of petrified wood, and a few dinosaurs on display and they every 30 minutes or so they showed a movie about the history of the petrified forest. We sat and watched it and afterwards the girls picked up an activity book from the Rangers who explained that if they did at least three activities in that book, they could become Junior Rangers. The activities were divided into age groups, but Sara still needed help because she couldn’t read. It was nice to see Melissa helping her – without asking her to! Here they are, answering questions in the book… sharing a chair even! Thought it was funny that they both kicked off their flip-flops.

And here they are getting “sworn in” as Junior Rangers after the Rangers checked all their answers. They got a little pin to wear, too. (Please excuse the awful color cast)

We ate lunch at the restaurant/gift shop at the Painted Desert entrance of the park and went on our way again. We didn’t make it that much further and for the first time on this trip, Greg asked me to do some of the driving. Our stop for the night was Moriarty, New Mexico, and we were there early enough for Greg to take the girls to the pool for a little while before dinner. I stayed in the room and enjoyed some time to myself.

June 18th was the longest and most boring day.  We drove and drove, and drove some more. Nothing but NOTHING to see! Greg had asked me what the panhandle was like because he had never been though that part of Texas. I told him that it was completely flat with a fresh farm smell. Well I guess he didn’t believe me about the farm smell (eeww) because he insisted on taking the a/c off of recycle so he could see if I was right. We just about choked on that fresh farm smell! At some point my poor husband lost his mind, too, and went crazy (perhaps too much of that fresh farm smell?). I have the pictures to prove it but unfortunately I can’t post them on the blog for fear that he will take my computer away and cancel our Internet if he saw them here. One of them IS in my zenfolio vacation album and you will be able to see it there. I will be e-mailing the link shortly, and anyone who didn’t get it, please feel free to contact me).  Lunch was probably the highlight of the day. Sad, I know, but the drive was sooo boring! We kept seeing billboards for The Big Texan Ranch, home of the free 72oz. steak. ( They are in Amarillo and that’s where we decided to eat lunch. Neither one of us even thought about trying to eat that free steak (I don’t like steak anyway)! Not only do you have to eat the steak, but ALL of the side dishes, too – within 1 hour!! They have a table set aside for anyone who wants to attempt to shove about 7 or 8 pounds of food down their throat (once you add the salad, shrimp, baked potato, and whatever else there may be) and when we got there, someone was sitting at that table, trying to get a free meal. He gave up long before his hour was up and left with most of his steak in a to-go box, and his wallet $72 lighter.

We finally made it HOME around 9:15 pm.    ~ The End.

2008 Vacation – part 4

June 15th was the first day of the end of our vacation. Time to slowly make our way back east and towards home. Greg had to leave on a business trip to Colorado Springs on June 22 and we wanted a few days at home before he had to leave, otherwise we would have planned to be home on the 21st. On one of his business trips to San Francisco, he drove around and ended up in Sausalito and he really liked, so that is where we went that morning, bright and early. We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge – twice! Not that we saw much of it because it was completely fogged in!

Sausalitowas very nice. We just drove around… and then went through a car wash at a gas station because the car really needed it. It was nice, being able to take pictures through clean windows again, at least for a little while, until they got all dirty again with dust and bug splat. We crossed the Bay Bridge, too, on the bottom level. Not all that interesting, and it’s not as pretty as the Golden Gate Bridge. The drive that day was loooong and very boring, especially the part where we drove through the Mojave Desert. We made it to Barstowe, California that day and probably would have made it a little farther than that, had the stupid GPS thingie not sent us driving in circles!! Grrr!!! That story deserves it’s on spotlight on this blog, so stay tuned! Here is a picture of somewhere in the Mojave Desert *yawn*

June 16th we left California behind and drove through the Arizona desert and spent the afternoon at the Grand Canyon. That is one big huge hole in the ground! No hiking for us, it was way too hot for that and I preferred walking around in my flip-flops. Not exactly hiking boots. We did it the easy way and drove from overlook to overlook, although we didn’t stop at every one of them.  Not sure at which one I took this picture

but this one was taken at our last stop, the Watchtower. What a great view from up there! It was getting late in the evening by then so most of the canyon was in shadows. Made for a nice view of the Colorado River, though.

We would have liked to stay at one of the lodges at the Grand Canyon, but the one we checked out was a little pricey, so we decided to look for a hotel in Flagstaff. There must have been something going on because we checked at several hotels and they had no rooms available.  We had no choice but to drive a little more, and ended up in Winslow, Arizona for the night.

To be continued…..

2008 Vacation – part 3

Time for the next vacation chapter 🙂

On June 12th we drove to Solvang, a cute little Danish village. We walked through town, browsed through some shops, and stopped at a bakery to get a little snack. There were several wine tasting rooms and Greg really wanted to do some tasting, but then agreed with me that it was a little too early to “drink”. As a matter of fact, we didn’t stop at ANY of the wineries on this whole trip!

We stopped at Pismo Beach to collect some seashells and found lots of bits and pieces of sand dollars. Greg was lucky enough to find a whole one! I still have not checked to see if it survived the rest of the trip…. I need to bleach those stinky seashells soon! They’re all in ziplock bags right now. We stopped at a few other beaches, too, to take pictures. No swimming because it was chilly and windy, and the water was freezing cold. There was one beach (although you couldn’t really get to it because it was fenced off) where you could watch elephant seals. Finally an opportunity to dig out my big lens and use it. 

And of course I had to take pictures at Big Sur. What a beautiful place! The sun came out for a little while, too, and what a difference it made! Those pictures just wouldn’t have been the same on a gray and cloudy day.

We spent the night in Monterey and continued to head north the next day, Friday, June 13th.  Again, we took the time to stop at a few beaches to take pictures and let the girls run and play. They were over wanting to swim in the ocean… I kept asking if they wanted to, and every time the answer was “no!!!” Wonder why??  All they cared about was building sand castles, except that they forgot all their sand toys at home and had to improvise. They looked for small logs, arranged them in a square, and covered them with sand.

This was the day when we finally made it to San Francisco! What a crazy city. Traffic was nuts, and I’m so glad I didn’t have to do any driving. Forget being a “city girl”, I’ll stick with small town! The only sight-seeing we did was Golden Gate Bridge, since we were very close to it. Unfortunately it was very foggy and we couldn’t see much of the bridge at all. Still took a few pictures, just in case this would be the only opportunity and there was even more fog the next time.

We had to pay for parking (darn parking meters again) and had some time left after trying to find the bridge in the fog, so we browsed through the souvenir shop and found a map of downtown San Francisco with all the points of interest, etc.  Next order of business was finding a hotel. Greg found one on the map that was downtown, but far enough away from all the tourist attractions to hopefully be reasonably priced. We get there and they had mandatory valet parking – not too happy about that!! Greg goes into the lobby to inquire about a room while we waited in the car. When he came back out, he said that a German motorcycle gang just took the last of the rooms (yay!!) and we went looking somewhere else. Ended up near the airport, away from the crazy busy downtown streets (ahhh!) and got a room at the first hotel we stopped. Haul all of our stuff to the second floor and just about get knocked over when we open the door to the room – it was a smoking room!! YUCK!!! Greg went to see if they could switch us but it was the only room they had left so we drove down the street to the next hotel and finally got a room. Non-smoking! Bad thing there was that they didn’t have a guest laundry, but we still had enough clean clothes left to last us a couple of days. For dinner, Greg found another diner that was featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”. Grubstake Diner. Good food there, too.

June 14th  we spent all day in San Francisco. Left the hotel not long after breakfast and drove to Seal Rock first. I don’t know why they call it that because there were no seals anywhere, just lots and lots of birds. We found Baker Beach, which is right next to Golden Gate Bridge and although it was a cloudy morning, there was very little fog and we actually got to SEE the bridge! I would have loved a little bit of sunshine for more of a “postcard” picture, but I was happy that it wasn’t fogged in like the day before.

I talked Greg into driving to the top of the bridge, too, but it was very crowded and we couldn’t find a place to park. He drove around the parking lot while I ran up to the bridge for some pictures and then met him again in the parking lot.  Then we drove around the city, went down Lombard Street, which was really cool, but the pictures didn’t turn out like I hoped. I knew that right away. The shoebox is just too close to the ground to be able to see the turns, and there was no place to park – or stop – and get out to take pictures. When we were stopped at a red light at the bottom, we did see a cable car go by (never did ride one) and I just had to share this picture…. the guy leaning over to take a picture was just too funny!

We spent a few hours at Fisherman’s Wharf, including lunch, and then went to find Alamo Square to take pictures of the Victorian houses. There was a playground, too, and Greg took the girls there while I walked around and snapped away. Got some of the girls playing, too. They looked funny in their long pants, jackets, and… bare feet! They were wearing flip-flops and kicked them off at the playground.

It was still a little early for dinner, and we were all still full from lunch, which we ate a little later than usual, so we drove to Lake Merced and spent a little time there. For dinner we went to Joe’s Cable Car… yup, another diner that was featured on “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”. On the way back to the hotel, I got some really cool fog pictures, you could actually SEE the fog roll down the hills!

Stay tuned for part 4…

Purple Coneflower

(Monday’s Center  was of this kind of flower)

2008 Vacation – part 2

June 9th we did all the touristy stuff in L.A. Well, maybe not all of it, but some. Headed to Hollywood first, to Mann’s Chinese Theater, where all the hand and footprints are.

And I may not have seen Mickey Mouse, but at least I saw his star!

We went to Baby Blues BBQ for lunch, which was another diner that was features on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” and then Greg wanted to drive down Mulholland Drive. VERY nice, and what beautiful homes!! And they’re not all multi-million Dollar mansions, either.  We went to the Griffith Observatory, too, but unfortunately we had to pick the day of the week that they were closed, and only walked around the grounds for a while. We got a nice – but very smoggy – view of the Hollywood sign from there, and the L.A. skyline… barely visible through the smog. After that we headed back to the hotel, through L.A. rush hour! It wasn’t all that bad, but the motorcyclists are true daredevils, riding through traffic between the cars (as in between the lanes!!), whether the cars were moving or stopped! Crazy!! None of them seemed “smart” enough to at least ride on the shoulder. Nope, they had to be between two lanes of cars. I’ve never seen that anywhere else, and I guess that’s where the saying Only in California comes from LOL.

June 10th we checked out of the hotel in Anaheim and headed south to Carlsbad. The girls were soooo excited because we were finally going to Legoland!! We made it there early, before they opened, and had time to look for a hotel and reserve a room for that night. We ended up at Inns of America Suites ( and it was really nice!! I highly recommend it! It even had a small kitchenette with sink, refrigerator and microwave. And the bed was pure heaven, like sleeping on a big fluffy cloud. Wish we could have taken that room with us on the rest of the trip.

The girls had fun at Legoland, and we had time for quite a few rides. The first one they went on was one where they could drive little cars around a track and get their “driver’s license”. It was all the way at the far side of the park, but someone at the Anaheim hotel suggested we go to that ride first and avoid the long likes later in the day. The girls went on that ride at least three or four times before we moved on to the other ones. The park really wasn’t as crowded as I thought it would be. The weather probably helped because it was overcast/cloudy almost all day, and it drizzly that morning. They had a few roller coasters that the kids went on several times.

The park closed at 5pm but we left early to avoid the rush out of the parking lot, went to the hotel and took all our stuff to our room and then relaxed a little while until it was time to leave for dinner. We were meeting Desiree and family at a pizza place in town.  I already posted about it here  Too bad it was so chilly outside, I was really hoping to go for a walk on the beach, because the Carlsbad beaches are supposed to be really nice… and we hadn’t gone to any beach yet! I didn’t get any good pictures, either. They’re all blurry and grainy, but I did get a picture of Desi’s car! Anyone looking for a great photographer in the Hemet/Temecula area, give her a call! Her website link is on my sidebar as well.

On June 11th we started to head north towards San Francisco, driving along the coast on Highway 101 and Highway 1. That was my favorite part of the whole trip! What a beautiful drive, and the coastline is gorgeous, even on cloudy and overcast days. First we stopped at a farm stand in Carlsbad, very close to our hotel, to pick some strawberries. We spotted it the day before and bought a basket of strawberries to eat at the hotel. That morning we decided to pick our own… and eat some while we picked. Yum!

We stopped at Newport Beach for a walk (finally a beach!!!) and collected some seashells. We had to hurry because we parked at a parking meter and only had enough change for about 20 minutes or so. The kids wanted to go swimming but quickly changed their minds when they stuck their feet in the water and felt how freezing cold it was! Of course Sara still couldn’t stay out of the water and got splashed by a wave, and got her shorts wet. I should have known! LOL

That’s it for part 2. Stay tuned for part 3!



2008 Vacation – part1

OK, from the beginning… better make some coffee to keep yourselves awake! 😉

June 5th we got up bright and early (actually it wasn’t all that bright out) and were on the road by 4am. Driving through Texas was sooo boring, and New Mexico wasn’t any better.  We left with a full tank of gas, but by the time we reached Midland, TX it was time to start looking for a gas station. There were no signs by the highway exits so Greg keeps going, thinking that something must be coming up soon. Well, it didn’t, and just past Odessa, TX the warning light comes on, letting us know that we were going to run out of gas soon. Greg “thinks” there’s about a gallon (about 30 miles worth) left but he’s getting nervous because we’re still not seeing any signs and west of Midland is pretty much nothing for a while. GPS thingie to the rescue! He looks up the nearest gas station, which was about 18 miles behind us – and we did see it, only Greg didn’t want to pay $3.99 per gallon. Ha ha! Who knew we would end up there after all?! Thankfully we didn’t run out of gas on the way to the gas station and soon were back on our way west. Like I said, New Mexico wasn’t any prettier than Texas, but we did see a couple of dust devils. This one was the biggest one and we spotted it when we were still pretty far away. It was on the right side of the highway but as we got closer, it disappeared as it crossed the highway… but then picked up again on the left side and I was able to snap a picture.

We made it as far as Deming, New Mexico that day and spent the night.

June 6th we made it to Phoenix, Arizona before lunch time and ate at Joe’s Farm Grill. It was one of the restaurants that was featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”. Greg brought a whole list of them so we could stop at the ones in Arizona and California. Lunch was very good, and afterwards we drove to my friend Anjeanette’s house. We met about 12 years ago when we both lived in Maryland, and we worked together at two different places. It was so nice to see her and her husband again, and meet her boys! We hung out at her house for a while first and then went to a nearby playground. The kids all got along really well once they warmed up to each other, and had fun playing together.

After the playground we went back to Anjeanette’s house and waited for Steve to get home, and then we all went to dinner at Thee Pitt’s Again, another “DDD” place that was featured on the Food Network show. Both of Anjeanette’s boys wanted to sit next to Sara, so she got to sit between the two (I see that I’m going to have to lock her in the closet soon, if the boys are already after her! LOL). Sara and Vance got along especially well and were coloring a picture together. Anjeanette and I were joking about planning their wedding.

We said good-bye after dinner and headed to our hotel and planned on maybe meeting for breakfast at Matt’s Big Breakfast (yes, another “DDD” place) the next morning (June 7th), but they opened waaayyy too early and I didn’t blame Anjeanette & family one bit for not wanting to get up that early, especially considering that it was a good 30-45 minute drive from their house. As it turned out, there was already a line when we got there just after they opened, and we didn’t feel like waiting. So off we went to find someplace else for breakfast, and on to California.  Again, the landscape wasn’t very interesting…

We got to Anaheim early that afternoon and didn’t really do much. I think we did do a couple of loads of laundry. Greg took the kids over to the pool while I called my friend Bina, and then I went over there myself to take some pictures.

We had dinner at a nearby restaurant and then went for a walk down the street and back.

June 8th we met my friend Bina and her daughter for lunch at Baker’s Square, and then we all went to the Fullerton Arboretum. It was nice to finally meet Bina in person. We met years ago on a message board. Her daughter is 4 and just adorable!

The Arboretum was a great place, with lots of neat plants, like this tree here with a thorny trunk. There was white fluff all over the tree, too, that looked like cotton balls. I found a sign that said that it was a floss silk tree, and native to Peru and Argentina.

The kids got along great, too.

Bina and Miriam had plans that evening so we headed back to the hotel after the Arboretum and relaxed for a while. We decided to go to Downtown Disney that evening because it didn’t look that far on the little map we picked up somewhere. There was a restaurant on the way, so we walked there first to eat dinner, and then walked to Downtown Disney. That’s as close as I got to Disneyland 😦 Oh yes, and it was much, much farther than it looked on the map! Our poor feet! Sara walked most of the way, but Greg did have to carry her on his shoulders a few times. Back at the hotel, Greg got out his little GPS thingie and looked up how far we walked…. SEVEN MILES!!!! If I had known that, I would have gladly paid the $10, or however much it is, to park at Downtown Disney!

Well, this is it for part 1. Must edit some more pictures before I post part 2, so stay tuned! 😉

Home Grown

Lost Two

We’re baaack!!

14 days

4700 miles

1416 photos

$5.07 found by the kids

One great time!

We got home last night around 9:15pm. Haven’t even unpacked yet, and have sooo much to do in the next couple of days. I promise I’ll have details and pictures soon, and I’ll catch up with everyone else’s blogs asap. It’s good to be back!!

Lost One



Gotta love a free pair of flip-flops. Melissa neded a pair and went to the Kohl’s buy-1-get-1-free sale and got a free pair for myself.


I used the wall paint to paint the pot for my money tree. Blends in perfectly! 😉 It’s real place is next to the TV in our living room.


The Shoebox

Time to introduce the shoebox, aka. hubby’s car. Any smaller and I would have to call it a sardine can, and yes, this is what we’re driving around in on vacation… slightly squished… with the pavement around our necks (or so it seems)…. and getting out of the car feels like crawling out of a hole in the ground. Hubby just LOVES it when I make fun of his car like that! 😉  My car would have been much more comfortable, but with gas prices as high as they are, we don’t have a choice. So, I’ll just suck it in up and squeeze into the car every morning.

Little Dirt Devil

Sara bought a little toy vacuum cleaner with part of her birthday money, and she LOVES it! I wish it really worked 😉 As you can see, she wasn’t too thrilled to get her picture taken.

Prickly Pear – Day 2

Here is what the flower looks like on the second day. It won’t open up anymore on day 2.

I met Desi!

After Legoland yesterday we met up with Desiree (check out her photography website, link is on my sidebar) and her family at a pizza place in Carlsbad.  We had a great time! Desi is a lot of fun. Jon is quiet, but very nice, and the kids are just adorable. Jevin looks much taller in the pictures, and Daphne is such a sweetie.

The kids got along really well, too. Didn’t take long for them to share Peanut M&M’s and candy covered peanuts from the “gumball” machines. And they spent quite some time at the machines, sticking their hands up into them to try and get candy/toys out of them. I don’t think they got anything, though…. and I don’t know whose idea that was in the first place.

I didn’t get very many pictures, and what I did get it probably blurry. Just not enough light.

Prickly Pear – Day 1

This is what the flowers on my prickly pear cactus look like on the first day.

I Wanna Go To Disneyland!!!

Slight change of plans 😦 We discovered that there is something terribly wrong with the girls. They have decided that they would rather go to Legoland instead of Disneyland. What kid (especially GIRL!!) wouldn’t want to go to Disneyland??? I’m sad. A big reason for our California trip was Disneyland and I was soooo looking forward to it. So now we’ll be walking around Legoland. Ick. Yeah, yeah, I know it can be fun, too, but I wanna go to Disneyland!!!

That’s it! I’m sending Greg with the kids and I’ll go back home and have myself a REAL vacation!

That’s Sara’s little finger on the thumbtack