Friday, August 12, 2016

Travelling: The Saskatoon To Edmonton Edition

One of the things which is really not so much fun is having all four of us sleeping in one hotel room. The kids don't settle well and Dave and I don't sleep well. However, seeing the kids all sprawled out in the mornings is pretty cute! I'd rather be less annoyed and get a little more sleep though :)
We saw the really big buffalo in Jamestown, North Dakota and then we had a really long day of driving to get to Mom and Dad's.
We didn't do much our first few days at Mom and Dad's. Rachel and Mom baked buns and Sam played lots of different games with everyone.
And we had a gathering with some of my aunts and uncles and cousins from my dad's side of the family. Above are Sam and Rachel with two of their second cousins and below is me with two of my cousins.
Last Friday we headed off for a short weekend trip to Edmonton. This is where we lived for the first years of our marriage while Dave was getting his PhD. Both Sam and Rachel were born there and we hadn't been back since we moved, which was over four years ago.
First though, we saw the world's biggest Ukrainian Easter Egg in Vegreville.
A highlight for me was getting to spend most of a day with my New Mom's friends. This group of kids has grown a bit since we all had our first (and second and third and fourth!) kids. This group of women is so special to me and I wish a couple of women who had to miss out also could have joined us.
And after finding out our supper plans for that night had fallen through, four of the five of us were able to spontaneously have a mom's night out at The Melting Pot. I love these women so much and miss them a lot.
We stopped by the house where we spent the first years of our lives together.
And we got to spend a lot of time with my cousins and their kids. Sam and Rachel loved these slightly older second cousins a ton and can't wait to see them again.
And then we were back in Saskatchewan for a few more days. There really is no other place like it. I love this view sooooo much.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Playing With Fire!

Today is our last full day in Saskatchewan before we head off on our four day drive towards home.
Last night we decided to take advantage of the nice weather and have a wiener roast.
Hot dogs taste so much better when roasted over a fire. Yum!
 
And then we got "poke sticks" and Sam (and Rachel. And I. And Dave!) all got to play with fire for a little.
There is nothing so relaxing as sitting around a campfire (even if it is built in an old washing machine out in your parents' backyard) and poking at it with a stick. If you haven't had that chance then you'll just have to trust me on this one :)

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

The Target Mothership And A Giant Ball Of Twine

Dave here, guest blogging, with another road trip update.

Our trip continued through Wisconsin, where we stopped for lunch at Culver's...

...and Sam and Rachel had some much-needed run around time.

Our next stop was a Target just outside Minneapolis, which Natasha has been sorely missing since they closed all of their Canadian locations two years ago. Not only was this a chance for her to stop at a Target, but this was the site of the very first Target -- and a Super Target, to boot!
She and Rachel were very excited to check out the "mothership" (as I called it)...
...and we got to stock up on Ro-Tel -- South Georgia caviar, here we come!

But the highlight of our day (for me, anyway) was still to come. A while back, as Natasha was finding road trip ideas on Pinterest, she happened across a list of unusual tourist attractions in each state. As she looked through the list, she jokingly suggested we check out the "biggest ball of twine in Minnesota." I reacted with shock and enthusiasm -- as a kid, I remember listening to a Weird Al Yankovic song all about said twine ball, and always assumed it something he made up. When I found out that there was a real Biggest Ball of Twine, and it was only 45 minutes out of our way, I knew we had to go there.

So, we turned off the interstate just west of Minneapolis, and headed through small towns and farmland towards Darwin, MN. We finally got there late in the afternoon, and quickly found our way to the Ball of Twine. It was everything I hoped it would be, and more (if that's possible...).
Those of you interested in the competitive world of giant twine balls will be fascinated to learn that this is not actually the biggest ball of twine -- there is a larger one in Cawker City, KS.
However, this is the biggest one made by one man (Francis Johnson), as the fine print on this sign points out. He created the ball of twine slowly and steadily over the course of 29 years.
We all had fun checking out the ball, including Funny Bunny!

We were initially disappointed that the gift shop/museum was closed. However, there was a small sign that said we could call Marilyn on evenings or weekends. So, we called her up and within a few minutes she arrived and not only let us in, but gave us a tour of the museum, which included...
...very intricate carved pliers that Francis made in his "spare" time,
...and a few silly twine ball photos.
We took a few last pictures at the twine ball...
 ...and then it was time to head off into the sunset towards North Dakota.

Friday, August 05, 2016

Checking Out Chicago

On Saturday night we stayed with my friend's parents. We had such a good time with them and appreciated their hospitality so much. Then bright and early Sunday morning we headed for Chicago.
We landed at Millennium Park and headed off to The Chicago Bean.
This was such a fun thing to see. The kids loved checking out their reflections.
Then we headed across the really fun BP Pedestrian Bridge designed by Frank Gehry.
We walked across the Chicago River...
...and landed at Navy Pier. We enjoyed an awesome lunch at Bubba Gump's, bought some souvenirs, and walked back along the lake to Millennium Park again. We wanted to go on the Ferris wheel but the line to buy tickets was incredibly long and we decided we weren't that excited about riding it.
We found a kind soul to take a family picture of us along the lake. I think this is Christmas card worthy, don't you!? Ha!
We even took some time to stop and smell the flowers.
I was really excited to note, when I was Google mapping other things, the sign for the beginning of Route 66. This is a road trip I really want to do someday. Although Dave and I have decided that we need to wait until the kids are a little older because that really would be all about the slow road trip.
Way back in 2001 or so my friend Alissa and a few others started an e-mail women's group. One of those woman, Carmen, lives in Chicago so I was so excited to meet up with her for a brief time. We enjoyed visiting while the kids cooled off in a fountain.
And then on Sunday night, we went to a Cubs' game at Wrigley Field. Dave was very excited to be at this historic ballpark. I was excited we were there on the night they were handing out free jerseys to all the kids!
Again, it was a night game so we didn't stay until the end, but our time there ended with a beautiful sunset over the ball park. By 10pm we were heading towards out next destination. And since the game went twelve innings and didn't end until 11:45pm, we were glad we'd left early. After struggling through most of the game, the Cubs ended up tying it in the bottom of the ninth and then winning so that was exciting. Listening to it on the radio kept us entertained for most of the way to our next destination.