Monday, July 04, 2016

Palm Desert Bound!

Vacation time for the Riley Fam!   Despite all of our different weekend adventures - or my kid/girls trips, John definitely craves a point in the summer when he can take time off and feel like it was an actual vacation.  After the "big-ness" of Disneyworld last year, we knew we had to scale down a bit - so a road trip it would be.  As we have Marriott time share access, the guys rooted for a trip to the desert - specifically "Palm Desert" - and actually the property we originally bought (but have always used since then to trade out).  

We were on the road by 5:20, and this was our sunrise view.  Pretty awesome way to start a 17 hour drive.

John thoughtfully created a sleeping cubby in the back.  Honestly, I didn't think it was all that worthwhile, but the kids fought over who got to be there to sleep and when (and yes, it saved me from hours 15-17) - so well done John!   Brayden, in particular, had gotten very little sleep the previous week, had no voice left, and had picked up a cold.  For him to get real sleep was essential for the harmony of our trip! 

Adults up front and still smiling as we began!  (Let's not address the fact that our two kids are so close to being classified as adults themselves....really, I went into this trip with a certain worry about that, wondering how we'd all get along with that in mind).

Outside of Sacramento, we made it to a California must-stop, "In 'n Out".  

No time to stop and smell the roses, so if the kids had to use the bathroom, they needed to meet us on the other side of the drive thru.

I can't even tell you how maddening California traffic was - that mid to southern stretch of I-5 is excruciating.  Crazy drivers, a black hole of scenery, a horizon of smog... I took a driving stretch during this time while John slept and my inner road rage surfaced.  John called me "The 'Principled' Driver" as I was determined to not let anyone sneak in and pass me from the left.  We were in a 70mph stretch, but trucks had to go 55mph, so we obviously had some issues in our 2 lane stretch of getting slowed down.  I stayed with the fastest drivers in the left, but watched as moron after moron tried to cheat the system by getting ahead on the right, only to be stuck behind a semi, and then sneak in in front of us.  I was running an ongoing dialogue with these fools, had a name for each of the offenders, and stood my ground.  It's no wonder I had to retreat to the back for a nap after my turn was done!

Around 7:45, we pulled into our resort.  Right as the sun went down.  Sunrise to sunset - that was a worthy road trip.   Clearly, the scenery improved from that dead I-5 stretch. 

Our room view - the kids had a lock off unit adjacent to ours that was all one room with a bed and hide-a-bed.  The Marriott arrangements are similar in many of their club locations - this one matched the one in Orlando and had me missing our "people" from the previous vacation.  

(The kids' room)

Our "living room".  I guess I never snapped a pic of our bedroom.

We all really needed to go to bed - that much time on the road makes for some cranky family members.  

This scene made things seem a lot better Sunday morning.  It would have been a lot more ideal if it wasn't already near 100 degrees at the point we walked across the street to go there.   I am really not a fan of heat to that extent, especially since my body doesn't really adjust well to it.  Sure enough, I was treating myself for an overheating headache for the rest of the day and evening.  Fortunately, I kept it at bay - but it added to my own level of crankiness.  

But, this view - and the feel of the sun, and the perfect temperature of the pool, it was wonderful.

 This was the view from the other direction.

Brayden's before and after tanning color pics are obnoxious.  At 17, we do our best to give him parental guidance, but he was determined to emerge from this vacation in full summer hue.  He just gets dark without burning....

Prior to embarking on our trip to Westfield Mall (inside!) - I went out to our patio to just chill.  I saw a lone duck waddling a ways away on the path and ran inside to get a treat to throw at him.  Instantly, I was surrounded with what totaled to 38 more ducks... Clearly, this isn't their first rodeo getting snacks from the visitors.

A few of them were even brave enough to take it right out of our hand.

John snapped an awesome photo with the HDR on his phone...

Getting our family to pose for pics....ugh!!!!!  I could show about 10 failures for every different attempt.  We eventually had to just mandate one a day so they'd cooperate.
Babe's Brewhouse was the destination for dinner.  It was quite a wait, and we were a little annoyed with one another. 
 We had a lot of time to wait - so we took pics.  That didn't help Brayden's mood.

But, finally getting seated and getting food did help.  Thumbs up from Brayden to the completion of our first full day in the desert.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Road Trip Wednesdays: Visiting Kaela at OMSI

Next up for the weekly adventures was a trip to OMSI to visit with Kaela.  The weather was looking only mediocre for the week, so a trip out of the gloom and some time in a wide open play place inside sounded perfect.  
It was also perfect timing to meet up with Kaela.   

It was the day after the fateful hair-cutting incident, so I tried a headband to cover up the damage.  Not my favorite look on her, but it hid the fringe!

Could Emery be any cuter?

Whitley bee-lined it for the water area while the other girls were otherwise occupied.  She was loving it once she got a hold of some dipping canisters.


We then moved on to the animal area - and kind of settled into that place for nearly the rest of our stay.  

Addy enjoyed the "close-ups" =)

The one shot I got of Sienna during this field trip - happy in Kaela's arms.

A quick selfie - sometimes I just slow her down to pose so I can get kind of a hug.  

Elsie and Emery both loved the magnifying glass and animal prints too!

Just like at Honeyman, Whitley was happy to befriend "other kids" - particularly boys that are older - (uh oh!) - and engage in play with them.  It's times like these that it feels like she's growing up so fast and will absolutely excel in pre-school in the fall.  

These two were loving life too - the floaty ball area was fantastic.  

And, the water area was a hit once the girls discovered it.

Addy, just kicking it, right before we needed to leave.  

Trying to get this whole crew to smile - oh, not so easy.... but at least we were able to prove we were all there and no one was crying!

We were able to pull off smiles all around in this pic...

We ended up arriving back into town earlier than expected and happily took up some extra time at the new play structure in downtown Coburg.  The last thing I wanted to do was get home after such a busy and tiring day and be coerced into aerobics on the trampoline, so I was all about killing time together!  It was a hit - and ended the day quite successfully! (For sure, Emery thought so!)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Road Trip Wednesdays: Honeyman State Park in Florence

The inaugural trip of "Road Trip Wednesdays" - and it will go down in history as a splendid day indeed.

It had been at least 12 years since I'd been to Honeyman State Park in Florence - in terms of actually playing at the lake portion, so I was a little hesitant to be the lead on this trip without more recent experience, but as it turned out, my concern was unmerited.  We waited for a day in which the high temps were expected to exceed 70 degrees on the coast - a rarity, and given it was still a midweek day during which school was still happening - the crowds would hopefully be very low.  Yes and yes!

What a crew we managed to fit into my "Magical Minivan".  It definitely is not a piece of cake to fit all five of the carseats in (especially the big ones in the back), but so worth the trouble to be able to all drive together. 

The kids were actually quite awesome on the ride there - I think (in hindsight) we got a little "beginner's luck".

As soon as we arrived, we found a small picnic campsite, started a fire, and made ourselves hot dogs, watermelon, and smores for lunch.  I think us moms were more excited about the bbq than the kids (we would have preferred to sit and lounge for a while, but 5 minutes was about their limit for sitting still).  

The panorama view from the campsite - such a GORGEOUS DAY!

Addy was definitely a fan of the smores - especially the marshmallow.  We wisely chose to change them into swimsuits and out of pj's after lunch!

And, then, we parked a couple spaces away and headed down to Cleawox Lake.  Honestly, it was even better than I remembered.  Christi and Cheyenneh were so impressed, but nothing compared to the joy that the kids all demonstrated.

ESPECIALLY WHITLEY!  (Apparently, she'd just watched "Karate Kid" and was practicing the pose) =)

Emery just wanted to get further into the water.  

Whitley was a little more interested staying out in the water, while Addy and Elsie tended to keep themselves happily occupied a little closer to shore.

What a model!

Sienna and Emery did such a great job playing at the shoreline before taking naps in the Ergo's their moms wisely packed.

They are both COVERED in sand - and loving every minute of it!

These little water floaties cost all of $1.99 each - and they were worth every penny.  


All five in sight - all five playing independently and happy.  The day felt miraculous.  

This little boy was SO sweet.  He walked along the shore line offering to give rides on his boogy board.   The girls soaked up his attention and the fun of it.  Elsie also took a ride, but we didn't catch that in pics. 


And, us moms - we were grinning head to toe.  Mission over-the-top accomplished on our first outing of "Road Trip Wednesdays"

I can't even put into words how thankful I am for these two ladies (and their kiddos) in my life.

We capped off the fun of the day with some ice cream from DQ.  We thought they'd definitely earned it with such great behavior.

And, this was the result of bbq, sunshine, lake water, and ice cream.  Whitley's still hanging in there (she never did fall asleep), but she was super close.  

What a fantastic day - if this was how every day was spent as a mommy (or auntie) - life would be so good!