Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I have missed you! We took some time off over Christmas break and did some traveling. The kids got out of school on Thursday and we drove to Omaha that afternoon to catch an early morning flight out to San Diego. We rented a card and traveled three and a half hours east to Wellton, Arizona to spend Christmas with my parents. They live in this teeny-tiny burg every winter.

Cameron making friends with a baby goat.
We had a great visit with my folks. The kids love swimming outside in the winter time. Most of the residents think they are a little crazy, but they have fun. Emily, our oldest, learned how to play Cribbage, which is Papa's favorite game, and we all learned how to play Nickel-Nickel. I am fairly sure that is now Cameron's favorite card game. We visited The Camel Farm and it had camels, deer, donkeys, a Hinney Pinney, a Wallaroo, an ostrich, goats and a variety of unusual birds. It was wonderful to spend time as a family.

View from almost the top!
We got to climb in the foothills of one of the many mountain ranges in the area. The view from the top was incredible. I was amazed as a we traveled what a huge variety of landscapes there are in Arizona. We passed mountains that looked like giant piles of little rocks and mountains that were piles of enormous boulders, we saw bare rock, shrub covered rocks, dormant volcano domes, palm trees,  valleys of scrub brush and valleys full of cactus. We saw orchards of fruit and date trees fields of lettuce, broccoli, cabbage and cotton.
Cotton fields. I had no idea it grew in AZ.

As we drove we pondered what it might have been like to be a pioneer family traveling across this barren appearing and strangely beautiful land. The day we climbed the hills and left my parents mid-climb we discussed what would have happened if we were traveling 100 years ago and were forced to leave them behind because they couldn't climb the mountains. Rachel, our middle child, sweetly said that she would carry her grandparents rather than choose to leave them behind. The whole landscape was fascinating.

We visited the Casa Grande Ruins and enjoyed learning about the Hohokam people who built complex living compounds and irrigation canals. They managed to create quite an extensive community in this unforgiving landscape and remained there for a thousand years.

Coronado Island Bridge at Sunset
Leaving the parents/grandparents is always the most difficult part of every visit. We left Wellton with many hugs and tears and traveled back to San Diego. Our first order of business was a harbor cruise. It was chilly, but lovely. We got to experience an incredible sunset while we were out on the water. 

We spent a day at Legoland, which was fun, but we decided that we really should have gone about 4 or 5 years ago. The girls were too old for most of the things there. Cameron got to work with the Microbots and that was a good experience. Our favorite part was Miniland where everything is made of Legos and they have replicas of New York City, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Las Vegas and a myriad of other places.
We liked the farm in Miniland. Looked a lot like home. : )
 Our final day in San Diego was spent at SeaWorld. We had been there 7 years ago and really enjoyed it. Rachel fell in love with the Manatees and was very sad to learn that they no longer have Manatees in SeaWorld San Diego. We did get to see all the other animals and all shows. The Shamu Christmas show was our favorite because we got to sing Christmas carols. SeaWorld had a pets show that had 120 different animals in it - dogs, cats and pigs. They had even trained the cats to perform a variety of tasks. We found this quite surprising since cats are fairly non-compliant.
Family at SeaWorld, San Diego
We flew home with some fairly bumpy conditions that left us all a little green around the gills. I am thankful that the turbulence was much less than they anticipated, but it was certainly enough (urp!)!
Vacations are fun, but it was nice to be in our own home with our own animals and sleep in our own beds.

However you spent the holidays, I hope it was happy. I wish you all nothing but wonderful things and bountiful blessings in the new year.

Happy New Year!

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