24 09 2007

I’m currently attending a photography workshop put on by Chris Marquardt, podcaster extraordinare of the Tips from the Top Floor podcast. One of the things that I think makes this workshop really work well are the assignments. The first one was rather vague. The assignment for this photo was “knobs”. Being an avid cyclist, I needed an excuse to check out the bike shop across the street from the workshop. I never knew I could take so many pictures of tires. After we completed our photography scavenger hunt, we handed in our best image. This is the one I submitted. On the LCD screen of my camera, it didn’t look too impressive, however, after seeing it in more detail, I could really see the detail of my handywork. I was quite pleased to turn in something good after starting off by handing in something fairly terrible. Thanks Chris!

Back to the Future

20 09 2007

So, today, we had a long exhausting day going from Durango to Silverton and back to Durango aboard the Durango-Silverton Express. Everyone was excited to go, and the ride was one to remember with great views of the Colorado Rockies.

It’s pretty late as I post this, and I have about 7 hours to drive to Denver tomorrow, so I won’t have a chance to go over much of the details of today. Suffice it to say everyone had a good time, and I recommend this excursion to any one out there considering a ride.

On the Road Again

19 09 2007

Yesterday was only a warm up to the trek we faced today. It was a long and noisy journey from Flagstaff to Durango. Google Maps plotted the route as being about 310 miles taking about 5 hours to complete. A quick detour to Monument Valley was a can’t miss opportunity, so we brought the kids to see some really nice looking rock formations. However, after paying to get into the visitor center, we felt we wouldn’t have enough time in the day to take the 2 hour self guided drive to see all the rock formations. I didn’t want to get a whole lot of clay dirt in the car, and we had already lost an hour since the Navajo Nation observes Daylight Savings.

So, off we went along highway 163 north into Utah. Then after more than 40 miles, take 162 east, and this will eventually catch the US 160 highway and get us back on track to Durango. In retrospect, it may have been just as quick to just turn around after visiting Monument Valley, but at least the route was scenic.

We also stopped by the Four Corners National Monument. I figured since we aren’t taking this route on the return trip, we might as well stop and say we were there. It was an interesting place to stop. I’ve seen many people report that it wasn’t worth the price of admission. I believe that my donation to the Navajo tribe will go to good use, or at least to help maintain the monument. The kids used the oppotunity to run around, not knowing that they were running across 4 states. And, it was rather weird to be in such a point, the only point in the United States where 4 states meet. The position of the state lines on the monument felt as though they were 45 degrees of axis; I hope they were poistioned correctly.  At least now, we can say we were there, and we have pictures to prove it.

Tomorrow promises to be a scenic and memorable day. We are taking a trip on the Durango-Silverton Express. This train was once used to haul silver and gold from Silverton to Durango. Tourists started taking the scenic ride only months after it was completed back in 1881 or so. Eliana is looking forward to it, as am I.  The train takes 3 hours to go 45 miles, so this isn’t a back breaking ride. I just hope the kids help us to enjoy the ride.

Our drive yesterday was short and sweet. With less than 3 total house of kid-consciousness to deal with, the yelling and screaming ended as soon as it started. Today was much more difficult. We stopped nearly every hour to let the kids out and stretch their legs. We lingered at lunch time to let the kids run around in the play area at Burger King. (The Navajo Code Talker exihibit in the Kayenta Burger King was very interesting.) In all fairness though, Annabelle is the one having the tough time. Eliana is quite content to sit in her seat for the whole day as long as we have the DVDs playing her favorite movies. Annabelle gets bored after about 10 minutes and starts crying. She is just not old enough to handle the whole trip. I don’t know how we’re going to get along on Friday when we drive up to Denver. That will be at least 6 hours of car time. Only 2 of which they will be asleep.

Bike Friendly?

18 09 2007

Today was the first day of our vacation. It started out well, even though we did put off the packing to the last minute. Getting out of Phoenix was more work than it should have been, but we managed to make it to our first stop, Flagstaff, AZ, by 5pm. Our hotel was right off the freeway, and we were checked in fairly quickly. The first thing I decided we should do in the col mountain air was to go out for a short ride to dinner. I unloaded and assembled the bike trailer as expediently as I could. Things were chaotic in the back of the van as all our luggage was piled everywhere. I was very eager to get out for a ride after a few hours behind the wheel. I think the kids were just as anxious to have a good time.

 I noticed right away that the main street we were closest to wasn’t at all bike friendly. I found a bike lane close to the hotel, but it was pretty small. Once we got going, we also noticed that Flagstaff drivers weren’t all that friendly towards bikes either. It was like we were trespassing on thier roadway. I had heard good things about cycling in Flagstaff and I was extremely excited to give it a try, but my first go around at cycling in Flagstaff, at least near the NAU campus, wasn’t very good.

At least I know the cycling will get better in Colorado.

Road Trip

18 09 2007

It came fast and furious. We made plans for this way back in July. The day is finally here. Me, my wife, and the girls are going on a road trip.  Am I nervous? Not really. I am more anxious to get out of Arizona for a while. I am also concerned about the length of car time the girls are going to be endouring. In total, it’s a 12 hour drive from Phoenix to Denver. So, trying to break things down into a managable chunk, we plan on taking breaks in Flagstaff, AZ and Durango, CO. We’re going to have a little pitstop in Durango and take a history ride on the Durango-Silverton Express. Since Eliana is familiar with Thomas the Train, she is very exicted to see and ride on a real train.  I’m curious to see how close to the edge of the mountain this train goes.

This trip will be a trip back in time, of sorts. Before we had kids, and certainly before my wife and I were married, we both lived in Colorado for a while. Life in Boulder was so much more pleasant than the car-focused lifestyle we currently loathe. The constantly changing weather, the change of seasons, the outdoor activities, the variety of cultures in Denver provides for a vastly different quality of life. We miss those days.  I have vivid memories of walking out in the middle of Boulder at night in the falling snow with my wife. Those were great days for us, and we are taking a trip down memory lane to visit old friends, and perhaps to even make new ones. Either way, this will be a great experience for the kids and a great ride for me and my wife.

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So Close

2 09 2007

Can you name two of the most important milestones a parent of a baby/toddler looks forward to?

  1. Learning to walk
  2. Getting out of Diapers

There are plenty more with first words, first smile, etc. But my family is far beyond those milestones at this moment. But, Annabelle, the youngest of the group is still walking around in diapers. There is nothing wrong with that, as many kids don’t graduate to underpants until they are 2 or 3 years old. I’ve heard of some kids as old as 4 still be in diapers.

Annabelle is well within the diaper age, however, recently, she has been shows us that she is ok and willing to learn the next steps. Today, I thought was going to be the miracle of miracles: she would just say “Pee-pee” and just head to the toilet. She was walking around like she had to go. Her diaper was not even wet. So, noticing this little messages, I asked her if she had to go. She said “Yeah”. But she says to almost every question you ask. After taking her to the bathroom, her older sister following her for encouragement, I took off her diaper and sat her on the toilet. There she sat for more than a minute. It felt like an eternity. And, as usual, it could not have been any less motivating to have 2 people watching you go. She didn’t go. However, when I pulled her off the toilet, she looked back at the bowl as if she had gone. Her sister does this sometimes. I’m not sure what the fascination is about, but I hope it passes. Then, it was back to the diaper.

So, at 18 months, Annabelle is doing great as a baby/toddler. But, we really would like to end this diaper thing once and for all.