Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Little Jaunt to Get a Jeep

It's been a hope to be able to get a vehicle for Brayden ever since he turned 16 and got his license.  But, let's face it - between taxes that were more than we expected, a vacation to Disneyworld, a brand new boat in our driveway, and an unexpected trip to Oahu, it has not been something we had extra money to make happen.  I know Brayden was a bit disappointed, but has been very patient.  Given he spent most of his summer at Camp Harlow, it didn't make a lot of sense anyway for him to just have a vehicle we were paying for sitting int he parking lot.  

However, now that school has started up again, its become a lot more apparent just how much more helpful it would be for us to have an additional vehicle for him to take there and back each day.   Knowing the boat is about to be listed on Craigslist (the plan all along), we finally gave Brayden the okay to start researching Jeeps for sale that fit the criteria for what we were hoping to find.

What do you know, but that kid nailed it.  He found, and was the first query, for a 2007 Jeep Wrangler that has minimal miles and has been babied by the current owner.  (Not only babied, but equipped with all the extra bells and whistle accessories he's throwing in without extra charge).  The cost was below wholesale and considerably less expensive than any other Jeeps we'd looked into.  The only issue, it is in Meridian, Idaho (adjacent to Boise).  

Well, okay, then - I guess that means a family roadtrip. 

Over the course of the week, EVERY contingency needed to make this happen worked itself out.  I was even able to find a Courtyard by Marriott that we had points to use to stay at overnight.  On Friday afternoon, we pulled out at 3pm, and pulled into this hotel at midnight.  Long trip....

I think that may be the shortest stretch of time I've every stayed in a hotel room as we were out before 9:00 to meet up with the seller.

John had been in constant communication with the seller, Darren, and we really have come to respect and appreciate their family and his consideration in making sure Brayden was taken care of with this car.  I suspect if we lived nearby each other, we'd all be friends.  

While we waited for Darren to show John and Brayden all of the cool facets of the vehicle, the wife brought out 4 week old kittens for us to love on a bit....(yes, definitely we could be friends!).

And, then, before you know it, this is the scene.
And this is what we are looking at as John and I are driving in the Denali and our kids are trailing behind us heading home.

What a trip, right?!  I mean that both figuratively and literally...   How did we end up with a kid old enough to be in this place - not to mention two kids both responsible enough to handle an 8 hour road trip on their own? (we are caravaning - so they are behind us the whole time...)   Needless to say, Brayden is one happy kid.  He's shown us a much different level of maturity since school started back up, and the break downs of communication with him have been few and far between compared to even three months ago.  I felt like the whole timing of this Jeep and findng of it was totally God - and I'd suspect just Brayen's place in life is in the hands of God to be ready for this.  It works out nicely that he only has a few more weeks left until the October 6th (six month) date in which he'll be able to have passengers in the car beyond just family members (as mandated by Oregon law).  Lord willing, with an October 17th Homecoming, he'll be able to fully take a date there and back all on his own.  =) 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Watch Out for the Emu!

When I found out just how long I'd be flying solo without Christi, Elsie, and Emery to keep us company - I decided it was imperative to call in the reserves to help.  So, I sent out a text to Mom to see if she'd be willing to utilize the Groupon I'd just purchased to go to Wildlife Safari.  She jumped on the idea, and we settled on making it a happy end of the week by planning to go on Friday.  

I'd made the mistake of telling Whitley ahead of time that we'd be going, though, so she was pestering me all week as to what day we'd do the "safari" and see the animals.... "Why not today, Stephie?"  

In the future, I think we'll have to do more than one loop through the safari section.  On this day, we couldn't lollygag too long as we had to leave by 3pm for Boise - so we only made one circuit.  However, the animals are always moving and doing different things - so next time, we'll take more advantage of this experience.  

Immediately, Whitley settled into Grandma's lap and kept her eyes peeled for emus.  She remembered those big ol' ostrich look alikes as being really scary, but as is typical for Whitley these days, she had a curiosity she couldn't let go of in wanting to see them anyway.  

Our first big sighting was the giraffes, though.  There was a little one and a larger one right next to the road.  

Such MAJESTIC creatures!

Off to the right was the hippo pond.  

Uh Oh!!!!  It's an ostrich, not an emu, but that didn't matter to Whitley.

She assumed her fear position in the front seat, trying to hide beneath Mom's legs so the "emus won't get my eyelashes".  (No idea where she was going with that....but she went off for a while on the subject). 

Note her little head on the bottom - as you see just the neck of the very investigative ostrich.  (Yes, the window was fully closed).  

I swear, this guy had Whitley's number and knew how to terrify her.  (Of course, I could have pulled forward, but Mom and I were laughing so hard - and kind of enchanted by this guy who was literally pecking at our mirror and window).  

Finally, once Whitley got to the point of full on wailing - we moved forward and left Mr. Curious behind.  

Next up - the bison.  They were just being fed as we drove by - so we got a good view of all of them - including the adorable twins in the background.  

Such a neat place for these animals to live.  

Despite being here on so many occasions, there's always something new to watch or see.  On this occasion - these guys with antlers (some relative of deer), were sparring and just hearing the clicking sounds of their antlers impacting was impressive.  

After the drive-thru - we did the walk-thru in the village area.  We got to see Dayo and Pancake - looking so grown up these days.  

Mom was impressed with how well this pony was taken care of...she would definitely know.  

And, I was impressed that the donkey let me pet him this time.  =)

Whitley did this pose all by herself.  =)

The playground area (where she made fast friends with some boys her age) wreaked havoc with her hair.  Too funny!

And, finally, multiple efforts to tickle her enough to smile to get a selfie with Mom and I.  She matches the flamingos!

We swung by McDonald's on the way home.  When Whitley relayed her day to Travis that evening, she reported that we had lunch at "Uncy Johnald's".   Too funny!  "He has good chicken nuggets too!".  What a goofball - and such a fun day sharing her enthusiasm and antics with Mom! 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Proxy Falls with Micaela

I was really looking forward to Thursday.  I had reached out to my buddy, Micaela, to see if she'd be available to go on an adventure with me.  I was wanting to try a hike, but needed someone who would be understanding if things went awry, knowing Whitley had yet to be tested in her capacity or willingness to hike.

I picked Proxy Falls.  It is breathtaking in terms of fall foliage - only about an hour away, and an easy enough hike to do with it being a loop.  It was made better by the fact that Micaela had never been to this place - and I always love introducing fellow nature lovers to new places to explore in Oregon.

The clouds didn't clear until about part way through the hike, but the color was still spectacular.

There's two stop offs for Proxy - a side trail that takes you here, at the base of these falls with a bit of a water hole beneath it.   

It was a last minute decision to take Sydney.  I had to confirm what I already suspected that Micaela was indeed a "dog person".  Yup.  So, Syd got to go and was a great passenger in the back of the van.  We brought two tennis balls for her to "retrieve" in the water - she was very interested in swimming, but not retrieving.  One of the balls was left for some other lucky dog to swim to in the middle of the water hole.  

She might love the rolling even better than the swimming!  Note that her hair still hasn't grown back on this side from the surgery she had a month ago. 

For sure, all things considered, a very good decision to take her.  She hung out in the "trunk" portion of my van on the way home and had needed a bath anyway.  This picture says it all - HAPPY DOG.  

Whitley SOOOOOO wanted to go swimming too.  "Please Stephie, can I be a 'Nakey Baby' and go swimming?!"   Well, IF I had brought a swimsuit for me, and IF the water temp was about 30 degrees warmer, and IF it wasn't so muddy - maybe I'd have said yes.  However, given our circumstances, the best we could do for her was to let her dip her feet in and feel just how ice cold the water was to try to convince her the rest of her body in the water would not be a pleasant experience.  It worked, but for the rest of the hike she wanted to know where we could find the "warm waterfall".  =)

I love this girl.  

This is the second viewpoint to walk to on the trail.  
Can you tell that Whitley is not a big fan of posing for pictures or taking selfies?

And, then, the way back.  Even more fall foliage to behold.  

The collage I put together for Instagram - and on one of the posts, here's what I wrote.

Things that became obvious (or that I was reminded of) today:

1)  The Cascades are stunning in the fall.
2)  Even short visits to the mountains restores my soul.
3)  Whitley is capable of (and good at, and enjoys) hiking.
4)  Sydney is not too old or sick to go for a hike or chase a ball into a cold waterfall stream (Whitley wanted to swim too!)
5) I need to spend more time with Micaela Rahimian  =)

And, this is a screenshot of the Snapchat she sent my kids and put on her wall.  

So very good for both of us.  Just what we needed!