Friday, August 31, 2012

My Summer Vacation: The Final Push

When we woke up in Albert Lea, MN, we knew we had a long day of driving ahead of us. A day of driving that would take us through five states and deposit us at our final destination. 

I woke the girls up uber-early to give them a chance to swim in the hotel pool before we had to get back on the road. Getting out extra energy before being crammed in to the car for an entire day is always a good thing.

Our first stop was a rest stop in Wisconsin before powering through to Madison, which held our only real break on the day's drive. We planned to meet my friend Stephanie and her kids at Ella's Deli on Madison's east side.

It was so much fun to have lunch with Stephanie and see her kids. Since we see them only once a year, it's always amazing to me how big everyone has grown! Having such a short meet-up with them made me sad that we weren't able to stay in town longer for a more substantial visit. Upon leaving Madison I decided that next time we go back to the Midwest we will take a long, leisurely tour through Wisconsin and really see all of the friends and family that we want to see. 

Our yummy lunch was followed by ice cream for all. I was going to pass on the ice cream, since our road diet mainly consisted of trail mix and candy, but once I spotted the cake batter flavor, ribboned with electric blue frosting, I knew I had to have it. It didn't disappoint. 

Unfortunately I did not take too many pictures of the kids at Ella's Deli, these are pretty much it. Boo! 

Eloise on the carousel.

Stephanie and Nicholaus on the carousel. 

Iris, Nicholaus, Stephanie and James on the carousel. 
Ruby on the carousel. 
It was such a hot day. The only time the weather was hot on our entire trip was the Mon-Fri of our drive. That was it. Oh, well. 

After saying goodbye to everyone we hopped back in the car and headed south to Illinois. We were able to swing a wide detour around Chicago, but the toll roads were still kind of a nightmare. Eventually we made it to Indiana and stopped for some food-- to eat in the car. Only one sit-down meal a day for us! As night descended we made our way up in to Western Michigan and finally, finally, made it to my parents house at about 10:00 pm. It didn't even feel real, pulling in to their driveway. It seemed like there was no way we were actually ever going to make it, yet there we were. I got out of that stinkin' rental car and never laid eyes on it again. Matt returned it the next morning. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Letting Go of the Marathon (for now)

While I was away on my Summer Vacation I finally came to terms with the realization that, because of my IT band injury, a fall marathon just won't happen for me. I think because it took me so long to get to this realization, that actually being here isn't as hard as I thought it would be. I think being so incredibly busy right now as summer winds down with school on the horizon, I just don't have a lot of time to get all "poor me". I also know that want to attempt my first marathon strong and healthy and having done as well in my training as I possibly could. Not get there injured and barely trained. I would rather not run at all than run ill-prepared. The only thing I wish was that I could defer my marathon, or even sell the bib, or heck, I would give it away! But alas, it's just money down the drain, and that sucks.

One big thing that has also helped has been talking with friends about it. They have them given me so much encouragement and reminded of how so very far I have come in the past year. It wasn't even a full year ago that I began running, after all. They reminded me that in that time I have run two half marathons (both under two hours), several 10Ks (hitting my goal of a sub-55:00 more than once), and several 5Ks (smashing my goal of a sub 25:00 on my third 5K). I have worked really hard and have had amazing results to show for it. I really have nothing at all to be upset about, other than a bum knee, of course. If I have done anything over the past year to be upset about, it might be the same thing I am proud of: that I pushed myself too hard. 

I have a lot to be proud of, a lot of good to focus on as I postpone my marathon dream. And who knows, maybe the marathon will come this spring or summer? Who knows. I guess my knee will be the judge of that.

Currently the space on my running board where my training calendar usually resides is completely empty. Not even a blank calendar, just nothing. I have been running so little and have not been following any kind of plan or schedule. My running coach suggested that maybe I want to focus on 10Ks for a bit, while I wait to be able to ramp up my miles again. I have been sitting on it and I think that might be a great idea. Maybe I can find a great 10K training plan to focus on that will help reach an even more aggressive 10K goal. A sub 50:00, perhaps? So as I glance at the empty space on my board, I think a 10K training plan might look mighty nice there. Perhaps I can shoot for the Snohomish River Run 10K at the end of October? 

I have the Athleta Iron Girl 10K coming up in September, and the Seattle Marathon half coming up in November. We shall see if I will be able to run that half. I really hope so, but I am okay letting that one go, too. I signed up for both of these races well before my knee pain began. 

Turns out that without the marathon, I still have a lot to look forward to. Mostly, to healing my bum knee and getting back out there better and stronger than ever! 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Summer Vacation: South Dakota

We woke up in Spearfish, SD and got ready to get on the road and head towards the one sight-seeing adventure we had planned for the whole darn trip: Mt. Rushmore. The drive from Spearfish to Mt. Rushmore winds through the Black Hills and you pass through Deadwood on your way. Deadwood, like the show! Of course, the city really seems to play up that aspect of the town and while very cool, it is also a little gimmicky. 

Not sure what was up with my phone camera, but here we are driving through Deadwood, SD. 

Since the Sturgis bike rally was happening right after we went through the area there were a lot of Harleys on the road. It was pretty neat to see them all! 

When we got to Mt. Rushmore it was, well, a very large and looming rock with giant faces carved in the side. We didn't have time to stay very long, but honestly, there really wasn't that much to do there so it worked out well for a quick visit.

The pathway up to viewing platform was lined with flags from each state of the nation. 

Washinton, the 42nd state!

The pillow pets even got to see Mt. Rushmore. 

This picture kind of cracked me up.
Here is Iris getting in to her Girls Rock Math shirt so we can take a photo for them. 

After we left Mt. Rushmore we headed to Rapid City, SD and got back on I-90. Our next stop was Wall Drug! I had been to Wall Drug in 2001, when I was moving out to Seattle, but I knew that Matt and the girls had to see it for themselves. Wall Drug is so very strange. We shopped, looked around, ate lunch and got some candy before jumping back in the car.

Jackalopes, anyone?

Got their mean poker faces on. Eloise is holding pretend cards.

Picking out salt water taffy. Which she later ditched in favor of something else. 

I stood in the middle of the street for this shot! The things I do! 

Yes, we HAD to buy the girls (fake) coon skin caps! Best purchase ever. 

Not sure what is up here, but I love these guys! 

After we left Wall, SD (yes, Wall Drug is in Wall, SD) it was a very, very long and very, very boring drive to our stop for the night in Albert Lea, MN. We stopped and had terrible Chinese food somewhere and didn't make it to the hotel until well past bedtime. The one amazing part of this drive was a gorgeous full moon rising over Minnesota as we drove east. I wished I had had my big camera on me to get a photo, but you'll just have to take my word for it that it was spectacular.  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

My Summer Vacation: The Car Accident

After our fun night with friends, we said good-bye to Helena, MT and headed back towards I-90. The plan was to make our way to Sheridan, WY to spend our next night in a hotel. Unfortunately, a couple of hours in to our trip, we drove over a big chunk of cement in the road and it tore up the underside of our car, including putting a hole in our gas tank. Luckily we were able to safely pull off the interstate and get everyone out of the car quickly and were all safe. We also were incredibly lucky to have a cell signal to call 911 and an officer responded immediately. 

A couple of firefighters arrived right after the police officer-- the guys drove nondescript pick-ups packed full of their gear. I don't know if they were volunteers or not, I didn't think to ask at the time. It was extremely hot out and for a while the girls and I got to sit in one of the pick-up trucks while the mess of the gas spilling out of car was contained. The girls found a dirty little "Rescue Pets" dog sitting in the firefighter's pile of gear and he told them they could have it. It was super gross, but the pup washed up nicely eventually. A good memento of our adventure! 

The firefighter had to leave before the tow truck arrived, though the police officer stayed the whole time we waited. We spent our time sitting in the shade of a the interstate's overpass and sitting in the back of the police cruiser. It wasn't terrible comfortable back there, as it isn't air conditioned. The police officer wasn't terribly, shall we say, chatty

Matt couldn't resist the opportunity to take my picture in the back of the police cruiser.
The officer was mostly surfing the internet, in case you were wondering. 

Yeah, that's where we were supposed to be. 

For some reason, it took the tow truck two hours to get to us, and when they got there, they said the police officer didn't tell them there was a family of four that they would need to be taking with the car, as well. Fortunately another tow truck came to pick us up. In hindsight, I don't know why the car wasn't towed by the same truck that drove us, but whatever. The tow truck drivers were extremely kind and the one who drive us back to Bozeman, MT was chatty and it made for a reasonably pleasant hour drive.

Eloise surveys the action with the Rescue Pet in her hand.

By the time the car got to the repair shop and we got to our hotel it was about five hours after the accident occurred. We were hot and tired and hungry! The hotel room was by far the nicest we had on our trip-- super big (two separate bedrooms and a living room and kitchen!)-- and had king sized beds. After a delicious and filling supper we headed to bed to put the events of the day behind us.

It took us about 40 hours to get out of Bozeman and back on the road. Long story short, our car stayed in Bozeman to be repaired and we ended up getting a rental car to finish our drive to Michigan. Ironically, the car was much smaller than our beautiful Equinox and, well, it really sucked to have to drive it the rest of the way. It barely fit all of our gear and my tall husband barely fit behind the steering wheel! But, we were on our way. Losing our car to an accident wasn't going to stop us. Onward and upward! 

After stopping for lunch in Sheridan, WY we made it to Spearfish, SD that night. The scenery that day was my favorite of any of our days of driving. I know a lot of people love going through Idaho, and that certainly was gorgeous, but it looked just like our usual drives through Washington. 

The rest stop right on the South Dakota border. 

Our road trip was back on! 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

I Interrupt This Summer Vacation to Bring Other News

Our summer is rapidly winding to a close! Since our car had to be left in Montana, due to the car accident (explanation and photos to follow), the girls and I flew back to Seattle instead of drove. Because of this, we gained a week of our summer back! Well, not literally, but seriously, being on the road feels like a time-warp as those days are just mostly lost in long miles and junk food.

But I digress. Summer is wrapping up. When we got back to Seattle we were faced with the unfortunate likelihood that Iris wasn't going to be going to the public school that we wanted her to, the school that her sister attends. Iris was on the waiting list for the school, but as we inched closer to the start of school with no word we all but gave up hope. I attempted to buy school supplies and keep our spirits up, not letting it show how utterly disappointed I was about it-- after all, that would have only added to Iris's anxiety about the situation. I have lost sleep over this whole thing and obsessed over who was getting in to what schools from what wait lists and how we would logistically make the whole thing work . . . . I was a bit of an internal mess. 

And then (drumroll please!) I woke up yesterday morning (very early because I couldn't sleep) to an email from the enrollment office. Iris got in to the school! I told Matt and the girls and we all screamed and celebrated. Immediately the relief washed over me and replaced my worry.

It turned out that good news was on a roll yesterday: later in the morning I got a call from an office that I submitted my resume to for a very part time job. Based on the job description I knew I was highly qualified for it, and would probably really enjoy it. It is the only job I have applied for in the past 6 1/2 years! I looked at my closet this morning and realized I have zero clothes that are appropriate for a work place or an interview. I guess that means I need to go shopping! To be perfectly honest, I am excited about the opportunity as well as nervous about getting back in to the work force. It will be a big change for me! 

There are so many other fun things going on, as well:

*I finally signed up for a gym membership so that I can have access to an elliptical machine because my IT band is still not my friend (okay, THAT isn't a fun thing, but the membership is!). It will be nice to get some cardio in when I can't run and it will be nice to have a gym option on those cold, rainy days that are on their way.

*I headed out with the family to an outdoor concert last night. We met my friend and her family and had an absolute blast. It was a gorgeous night under the Space Needle listening to a great mix of music watching the kids race around and play. Fall is definitely in the air, though!

Our view of the stage and the Space Needle during the show. 

*Tonight that same friend and I are going to another concert. Mamas are getting crazy!

*Sunday night the whole family is going to a Seattle Storm game! This will be the second time Matt has gotten to use a friend's tickets to sit in seats on the court. We went last year and it was so much fun.

More to come! 

Friday, August 24, 2012

My Summer Vacation: Overnight in Helena, MT

After we left Missoula, MT we headed to our friends' house in Helena, MT. My husband went to high school with Kristin, and I have had the extreme privilege of meeting her, her husband and their two daughters a few years ago.

When we arrived at their house we were greeted with hugs, a tour, snacks and cold drinks. Ahhhh. Immediately we all fell in to conversation and the girls figured out how to play together. Kristin's daughters, Willa and Hazel, are both one year younger than my daughters. The littlest two were the outgoing ones who immediately connected, while the older girls, a bit more shy and introverted, took a bit to get comfortable with the idea of playing together. It was very cool to see how alike the pairs of girls were! Also, it just occurred to me how all of these girls have adorable old lady names. Awwwww.  

Kristin's husband, also named Matt, grilled burgers for dinner and they were served up with delicious sides on a picnic table in their backyard. After dinner we embarked on a walk to the capitol building. It is such an interesting building, situated right in the middle of a neighborhood! The girls ran in every direction, climbing the steps and sliding down, playing and laughing. On the walk home we discovered a line of sprinklers and the girls were mostly drenched by the time we got back to the house.

Montana capitol building, complete with Matt and his dog Truman running across the lawn. 
Little girls play on giant steps.
A statue of a famous soldier, whose name escapes me and I am too lazy to look up. 
Little girls posing.
Joined by a big girl.
This is possibly my favorite picture of all time. L-R: Hazel, Eloise and Willa. 
All the girlies! L-R: Willa, Eloise, Hazel and Iris.
View looking north from the capitol building. 
We (heart) Montana! That moon was huge and spectacular in real life. Not so much on film.
Totally blurry, but the girls had fun running through this!
The next morning Kristin gave me a running tour of the downtown area and around where they live. The altitude killed me, but the town is so adorable and the views were unbeatable. After running, eating breakfast (crepes courtesy of Kristin!) and cleaning up, we walked back downtown and dropped Kristin off for an appointment while Matt (my Matt-- Kristin's Matt was at work) and I played with all of the girls and explored a little more. We all met back up for lunch at Taco Del Sol. YUM. A hot walk back to the house and we needed to shove off and get back on the road!

Kristin, carrying Hazel, Willa and Matt, carrying Eloise.
We had such a nice time with Kristin's family. They are all so kind, warm, and funny and made us all immediately feel at home in their home. Matt and the girls and I also just loved Helena. It is a beautiful, relaxed town surrounded by hills. We weren't happy about leaving, but are excited to some day go back now that we know how "easy" the drive is!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My Summer Vacation: Travelling on Day One

We left Seattle early on a Sunday morning, setting out to spend our first night in Helena, MT with friends. The drive was entirely un-eventful (which is a very good thing, we came to find out!).

Day one driving map.

The first stop was a rest area about three hours in to the trip. Just over an hour later we had lunch in Spokane, WA. The next stop was for gas and a leg stretch in (I think) Wallace, ID. In Idaho Matt and the girls briefly explored an old mining exhibit while I gassed up the ol' car. 

After that stop we barreled through to Missoula, MT. I adore Missoula, having spent some time there in the late 90's. We only stopped to play briefly at a park before heading in to town. Along the way we spotted a sign for a historic carousel, which seemed like a must-see. We weren't disappointed! The girls each rode for 75 cents each. Yes, I was amazed. Being that I am from Seattle, it's amazing to be able to do anything for under a few bucks! After the carousel it was back in the car for a windy and hilly drive northeast to Helena. 

View at the first rest stop.
Monkeying around at the rest stop.

Playing on the lawn. Trip exhaustion had not yet set in.
Playground #1 in Missoula, MT.
Resting under a tree on a VERY warm day!
Eloise exploring playground #2, officially called Dragon Hollow.
This one was a wee bit more impressive than playground #1. 
Standing in front of A Carousel for Missoula. 
After we left Missoula it was time to head towards our stop for the night, our friends' house in Helena, MT.