A Different Type of Thanksgiving

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A gorgeous sunset on Hilton Head Island by the lighthouse

I had the opportunity to do something different this Thanksgiving which was a relief but at the same time, a little stressful.  For many years my family would travel to my husband’s family as a Thanksgiving tradition.  The past couple of years I’ve spend it in Keystone, CO with my parents, my children (or some of them at least), and my fur boys. This year my parents were driving to Hilton Head Island, SC to visit my brother and his family and had invited my eldest son and to fly in later and join them.  Well, my son didn’t want to lose out on work money (I don’t blame him! As a server in an incredibly busy restaurant, it would make sense to earn beaucoup $!) and, unbeknownst to me, his father had asked him over for the holiday since he already had his brother and sister . He had accepted, not knowing that I hadn’t made any plans as I refused to leave him alone on Thanksgiving Day. Hmm, communication problems?! Yep, I believe so! Argh. ..  Well, now that these other plans were in place, that now meant that I’d be alone on Thanksgiving.

Parents to the rescue! I still managed to book a flight and although my heart hurt being away from my children and things that they had to deal with by being with their dad, I got to visit with my brother and his family in a state they’ve called their home for four years that I’d never seen before, run in a 10K race with a new PR, run on the beach, see some humongous alligators, and make some new memories. I was certainly blessed to have had this opportunity!

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Thanksgiving Day Race – 5K and 10K participants!

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Mandatory beach run selfie! If I hadn’t have been on a time crunch, I’d have been out there for HOURS!

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Group shot on the beach following our Thanksgiving meal. It was a beautiful day!

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My brother and I – we’re only a year and 17 days apart and were very close growing up. Not so much now 😦

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Easily 12-14 feet long. Gulp! Glad they were on the other side of the water!

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My new beau (ha!ha!) – and my Dad photobombing in the background (he was actually keeping the nutcracker’s mouth closed!). I love Christmas lights. . .

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Isn’t this a beautiful walkway to the beach? 

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My Dad and I – one last look at the beach before I headed home. 

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The Lake Was Calling

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What was once the mountains calling have since been replaced by the lake. When my parents sold their place in Keystone, CO, I’ll admit that I was disappointed. But the 9+ hour drive was a pain and not easy and they wanted something closer to home. I don’t blame them. As much as I loved going, the drive was a nuisance and basically 2 days of traveling nixed any short trips away. This past summer I went with them to Rogers, Arkansas where they ultimately bought a place in Bella Vista, right on the lake.  Since I was recovering from IT issues from my marathon, it was the perfect time to get out of town. I even took a vacation day from work so I could stay a little longer.  Oh, and this was the ultimate craft weekend, too!

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Breakfast on the screened in porch every morning. Heavenly!

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Morning Bible study/reading on the dock watching the sun rise. I do studies through felicitybee where she has monthly themes and readings/writings. I love them! If you have a chance to check them out, please do! 

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Mandatory selfie before hitting the lake with my Dad in the kayak

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A beautiful, still lake

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My Dad and I

It was a lovely weekend and I can see why my parents love it here so much. I’m looking forward to another weekend away soon where next time I can bring my fur babies!

 

My SF 1/2 Marathon

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A couple of months ago when my parents and I were discussing vacation plans for the summer, we decided to visit San Francisco.  After having secured our lodging and flights, which were rapidly being booked from under us, we glanced at what was going on in the city the days that we were going to be there.  Lo and behold, there was the San Francisco Marathon taking place on July 31st!  Most people would be like “Who wants to run a race on their vacation?” but me? Sign me up! I did linger a little too long, however, and missed out on the first 1/2 marathon sign up which took us over the Golden Gate Bridge.  I wasn’t ready for the full marathon yet so I signed up for the 2nd 1/2 marathon.

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The countdown was on! 

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Fort Mason’s Festival Pavilion

I made it to the expo on Friday when we were visiting Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf. Located in Fort Mason, the sign proudly announcing that ALL races were sold out and building was packed with vendors. I could have spent hours there! I didn’t, though, and quickly got my packet, asked about transportation from the hotel to the start line/shuttle and headed out to meet the rest of the family who were hanging out at a local Starbucks.

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Obligatory selfie!

The morning of the race arrived with a temperature of 56 degrees (lovely!). After hardly sleeping – excitement! – I headed down to the lobby to walk the dark streets of Union Square heading to the shuttle bus pick-up.  I must say that I am sometimes geographically challenged.  I knew I had to walk down Market Street which would then meet up with the road that the shuttle buses are on.  Of course I turned the wrong direction!  I met up with a gal from Central California named Irene who was also heading to the race. Once we got turned around in the right direction, we joined the incredibly long line for the shuttles. I was thankful I had left early enough that we didn’t miss the transportation access!

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This line stretched around 2 blocks and was constantly growing!

Finally on the bus, we breathed a sigh of relief, thinking it wouldn’t be too long and we’ll make it to the start line.  Except the shuttle bus driver didn’t know where he was going and we were his first route to take to the start.  Are you kidding me?????  We took the scenic route where we could hear the drivers’ conversation with dispatch about where he could and couldn’t go (road closures due to the race) Panic started to set in when I overheard dispatch say, “Why are you making a left there?” Breathe. I had no control over it. Let it go. *Gulp*

We eventually made it to the start line where due to being late I missed Wave 3’s start and had to settle for the next one.  That’s after making a mad dash to port-a-potties (no TP :() and checking in my sweatshirt. What a frenzied way to start a race!

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The 2nd Half Starting Line!

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In the starting shoot – crazy hair already! It was a bit humid.

The race got started and I was trying to find my pace.  It was a crowded start at the edge of Golden Gate Park with the usual people cutting in front of you and narrowing of the course so my time wasn’t a good starting time.  The course itself was very interesting with hills up and down.  I was impressed with the numerous water/electrolyte/medical stops located throughout the course (10 in my 13.1 miles!) and was grateful for port-a-potties when I had to make an emergency visit after mile 7 (my first potty stop EVER during a race. Hope not to repeat that again!).  I had a goal of a 2 hour time (my PR is 1:55) but didn’t want to put on too much pressure racing on a strange course in a strange city with hills that can’t be replicated in Kansas. Even by losing time to potty, I finished with 1:58:11 only my Garmin says that I ran 13.29 miles instead. I had walked many, many miles the previous two days sightseeing San Francisco so my legs weren’t as fresh as they could have been either. I was pleased with my time, though, and gave it all I had, which is all I could have done!

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At the finish sporting my new medal!

The results came in and they sent me this awesome run-down as to how my performance compared with others.  Not too shabby!

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I couldn’t have asked for a better day for my race and who knows if I’ll have the opportunity to run this race again.  It was a great way to see the city in a different way and something I’d never done before – racing with over 27,000 strangers! Something I never thought to have put on my bucket list but an achievement none-the-less. Now back to my marathon training schedule!

 

An April Snowstorm

I was fortunate enough to have a break where I took off for Keystone for a mental break. While I was there, there was a snowstorm that was predicted to dump anywhere from 1 – 4 FEET of snow, not just on Keystone, but all the way to Kansas.  That, of course, didn’t stop me from going out in it walking the dogs (cross training in snow!) and enjoying the ultimate quietness, sans kids.

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I was watching the snow come down on this once clear chair on the deck. Here it is with a few hours span of each picture.

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It looked quite droopy by the morning and you can’t really tell how tall the snow really is!

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The snow was VERY heavy and made the tree branches bow.

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I’ve never seen so much snow all over my van before! And yes, it’s STILL snowing! I believe we got about 2′ of snow over 3 days.

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There was a break in the snow and took off for a walk into River Run. I love this huge chess set and they looked funny with caps of snow on them!

I had no choice but to come home and with another snowstorm fast on my heels, I was fortunate enough that the roads were clear enough and could head out. Turns out the trip was bitter sweet.  My parents were working on getting it ready to put it on the market, hence my visit.  I helped organize and pack and had the room in the van to haul stuff back home in addition to theirs. News came yesterday that after one day on the market, it sold for list price.

Escaping on Spring Break

It’s been long awaited – the joy of a full week off – SPRING BREAK!  I had decided to split up the week to have time away and time at home,  a win-win situation, right?! The teens seemed to think so. Time away, time with their friends and time with their Dad. Too bad my eldest just got a new job and couldn’t come with us.

I put in my mandatory 3 1/2 hours at work on the Friday, packed up the kids and the dogs, and began the trek to Keystone, CO, where the mountains were beckoning. We did a couple of hikes, tried tubing (1st time in 13 years we actually couldn’t slide due to accumulation on the slope!), and walked in the snowstorm that dumped approximately 40″ in about 4 days.

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The morning after a few inches of snow fell – glorious, breathtaking, God’s handiwork scenery.  The pic on the left is Buddy and Cooper on a hike through an overlook by Lake Dillon. They love galloping through the snow and didn’t mind sinking belly deep! I sank in thigh-high deep at times but it was a  very enjoyable hike.  There’s just something about being in the mountains surrounded by such beauty that I feel at home, in peace, and so close to God. It clears the cobwebs and stress from my life back home and I feel so. much. better about EVERYTHING. What a wonderful emotional/mental break from life. And great cross-training, too!

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Brother and Sister did some great bonding on this trip. Lots and lots of laughter and memories made.

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Can you see how beautiful it is? In fact, my son got burnt on this 6.18 miles hike!

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This was our destination – La Bonte’s Cabin – and ski area! 

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And then the snow began in earnest. We took a walk when it tapered a little (my daughter coordinated her walrus socks with her Grandma’s jacket!) but it was snowing sideways and actually wasn’t  very pleasant. I came back with my hair soaking wet but I was plenty warm enough, despite the dropping temperatures.

We had planned to drive back on Tuesday and despite the hazardous warnings and the first time I’ve ever seen signs requesting  passenger vehicles have chains, we braved the I-70.  The highway wasn’t as bad as it could have been and some blowing snow caused some issues but we did just fine.  By the time we got to Genesee Park on the west side of Denver, you couldn’t even tell there was any weather! How bizarre . . .

As always when I leave, my soul feels fulfilled and although I didn’t want to go, I knew I had to. I’ll plan another trip soon.As it turned out, if I hadn’t left when I did, I wouldn’t have been able to leave due to the additional inches of snow!

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Mid-mountain on North Peak – Elevation: 11,237 feet – The official snow stake!

 

 

 

We’re Off to See the Wizard . . .ROAD TRIP!

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Yep, one of my Bucket List items – check!  A long weekend due to President’s Day and I couldn’t resist a road trip to Wamego, KS with my 3 kiddos. I mean, really, would I rather do chores or go somewhere fun? Exactly. We left the house before 9 am as it was supposed to take us about 2 1/2 hours to arrive.  We did, of course, stop by QuikTrip for the necessary refreshments prior to hitting the highway!

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Hwy 77 has plenty of farms and this kind of scenery.

When we arrived the teenagers were more than ready for lunch.  Two of them wanted Subway but my oldest said that was like driving 3 hours to go to Walmart. Good point.  So we looked at Friendship House (not the kids’ idea of a good place to eat: “It looks like someone’s house!”) or Kreem Kup, which ultimately won. Yummy food, that’s for sure!  With full bellies, the museum was next.

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The front of the museum. Very easy to find with front row parking.

When you first enter the museum you go right into what looks like a farmyard shop at Auntie Em’s.  Very friendly staff who not only helped me get as good a deal as I could get on the admission (yay for a college ID!), but she even volunteered to take pictures of us in the museum should we want!

The museum was full of artifacts, characters and a few videos about the making of the movie and the history — in other words, a plethora of information about the Wizard of Oz. We read oodles of signs and even watched part of the movie while we were there.  Here are a few pics of our fun trip.

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Perfect photo opp!

Brrr, Chilly Colorado!

Boxing Day (Dec. 26th for those that don’t know) was the day we once again loaded up the van for our traditional Colorado trip. We usually stay through Dec. 31st but due to my crazy desire to do something I’ve never done before, I decided we’d come back a day early (see previous post on the Hangover Series!). My oldest couldn’t come as the restaurant industry’s busiest time allowed him none off. I, however, needed a mental break and some get-away time!

It was bitterly, bitterly cold but if you were dressed appropriately, it didn’t feel too miserable.  It hadn’t been THIS cold in many, many years.

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This was what my phone said when I awoke on the 27th. I was going to go for a run but changed my mind until it had warmed up a little! Yes, it says NEGATIVE 18 degrees real feel!!!!

I was even more excited to be there this year as my brother and his wife and daughter from Hilton Head Island, SC were coming too!  I hadn’t seen my brother in 4 years since he’d moved. We had a blast ice skating, tubing, skiing, and snowshoeing. Before I knew it, it was time to pack back up and make the drive home.

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Skiing at the A-Basin, a first for me. Although the runs weren’t as long and there was only 1 quad lift, the crowds weren’t bad at all.

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My big bro and I.

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Trying out my new snowshoes. Hard work but LOVED it! We did a perimeter hike around the course and then my mum and I headed up the back mountain for some more miles.

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3 Generations – my mum, daughter, and I.

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Ice skating and hockey at the Adventure Center!

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2 of my crazy offspring on the tubing hill at the Nordic Center. They had a blast!

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We had to show my niece the Chocolate Village! It had a Star Wars theme this year (but not shown here).

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Might I add that I love it here?! Even though it was so cold, the magnificence never ceases to amaze me. Absolutely beautiful. I took this pic on the way to Mountain House.

Once again I didn’t get to do everything I would have liked to have done but that’s part of the fun of returning.  I was, however, disappointed that there wasn’t an ice sculpture for the New Year by the Village Lake this year. I guess they put it in River Run instead, somewhere else I didn’t make it to!