Monday, July 13, 2009

a much needed vacation

We took a much needed vacation this weekend.

It started out that we were going to my dad's family's reunion, but after spending over $1000 on our van, our budget was blown!

It started out simply enough: I took the van to have the oil changed and to get the tires balanced and rotated. The oil change was easy, but one tire was chewed up and another wasn't much better. So I bought two tires and the guy recommended an alignment to see what was up with the weird wearing of that one tire. So off to a tire specialist for a simple $50 alignment.

At the tire shop they found that the ball joint had gone bad on both sides and the tie rod was shot. We were concerned, since it was over $600 and we hadn't budgetted that for repairs, but we ordered those parts and waited. The next day, as they were trying to replace the ball joint on one side, they found that the threads on the ... um, did they call it an arm? or a receiver... anyway, the threads on that do-hickey were non-existent. We had two choices: weld it, or actually replace the thing for another $550. We would've had to sign a paper holding them harmless if we opted for the weld, and we *do* value we ordered the part and waited.

By now the time we were supposed to have left was hours ago. The money we were using for gas and supplies was spent. So I called my dad and broke the bad news: we weren't coming.

The kids were sad. They set up a collection for the trip to continue. They came up with $150, which was great! But, with a full-sized van that gets about 10 miles to the gallon, and another car to help hold 10 of us (Amber invited a friend) *and* all of our camping gear, the price of gas alone would be too much.

So, we sat down and looked at our options. The kids really wanted to go camping. They also wanted to go swimming. So, we took them to a nearby reservoir to satisfy their swimming desires. While some loved it, most hated it. There were "pokeys" and slimy stuff on the bottom.

They decided that they wanted to go swimming in a pool. While looking on-line we found that the rate on Monday night was less than half than on Friday, so we decided to wait and go swimming on Monday (tonight) and have a movie night with treats instead.

On Saturday, there was a Scottish Festival in a nearby town, so everyone but Michael and I went to that. They all had a great time. Jared bought a cool looking sword and Emily bought some pretty girl stuff. I stayed home and found our camping gear and packed the van. When the rest got home they got their bags packed and we hit the road.

We set up camp high in the hills...over 7000 ft above sea level. It was gorgeous up there with all of the greenery! And then it rained. In fact, it rained every day we were there, ranging in various degress of sprinkles, but no down-pours, thank heavens!

We stayed up there from Saturday evening until Monday (today) afternoon. We
*really* roughed it: packing in our water, making our own out-house using a utility/shower tent with a garbage-bag-lined 5 gallon bucket w/ a toilet seat secured on the hole-cut-out lid, several tents so the kids could feel independant of mom & dad, a "camp kitchen" where we can put our Coleman burners and the water containers. It was wonderful!

While we were there, Steve took me to see a beautiful creek with small waterfalls that he'd discovered earlier in the day while taking a walk alone. The views were gorgeous.

The dogs followed along, and I captured them on "film" being very much themselves.

Unfortunately, my memory card filled up quickly from the swimming pics and the landscape shots, *and* my batteries died. So I have pics of my dogs, but not my kids, which is just *so* wrong!

We came back this afternoon and unpacked and tidied up a bit before we went swimming at the pool. Josh, Karen, and Amber stayed behind and watched movies while the rest of us went to the pool.

And now, Emily and Matt are tucked in bed, Michael is lying down by Steve, and the older kids are still awake hanging out.

Tomorrow the wedding plans & preparation will resume. Only 4 more days!

See you when I get another minute!


  1. Sorry about the van.

    I love that waterfall photo!!! Swimming in little lakes like that freak me out.

    Oh the wedding is SO close.

    I'll be thinking of you!

  2. Glad you got away and all had fun. Sorry you missed the reunion. That stinks about the van. But you all made the best of a bad situation. That is great.

    Ok. The 5 gallon bucket and the lid.... I'm not so sure I could do all that. But I admire you :)


  3. Oh Good Lord! Actually, I grew up camping like that and didn't mind it until we moved here. We live at just over 6,000 ft so when we go camping we are usually between 8,000 and 10,000 feet. Even in the summer it gets really cold at night up there. We can also get snow anytime. We bought the trailer because it allows us to go camping during a longer period each year. We've woken up many a trip to find snow! Those are usually our spring or fall trips. Our last tent trip we about froze to death and slept on rocks and it was in August.

    I could tell you some camping horror stories! When I was in high school our radiator blew up in my dad's face and we had to camp near a hospital. OY!