Thursday, July 31, 2008

Day Six - Dixie Caverns & Girls

Today is our last full day in Southern VA. We didn't have anything planned for today, we kind of just went with the flow. The weather was warm, but overcast with on & off showers which limited our outdoor activities. We decided to head to the near-by Dixie Caverns in Salem VA.

We arrived at the caverns just in time for the start of a tour. These caverns do not have enough room for more then one tour at a time and we would have had to wait for a half and hour before the next one to start. Phew, good timing!

The tour was good. The guide was knowledgeable, but seemed like a know-it all punk kid, but I won't hold it against him since he gave us a decent tour.

The Dixie Caverns was discovered in the 1920's by a family walking their dog along the mountain range which was above us while we were under ground. The dog fell in a whole (which is in the photo above-the bright spot in the middle of the photo). When the dog was found in the whole, the caverns were discovered. Also, the dog made it out ok too. The dogs name was Dixie, hence the name of the caverns.

There was 300+ stairs all throughout the tour which were slippery and steep. I wouldn't recommend the caverns if you are wobbly on your feet (sorry mom, they are not suitable for you) or if you are claustrophobic.

I guess caverns in the area have wedding spots for couples who want to get married there. I guess there are weirder things out there! The picture above is called the Wedding Bell and this is where the Dixie Caverns designated marriage spot is. I wanted to get a picture of Jeff & Zack under it, but Zack ran ahead to be with the tour guide....oh well!

The big thing about the caverns is, you CANNOT touch the walls. The oils from our hands prevent the growth of the deposits since oil and water cannot mix. Imagine if people didn't listen, there wouldn't be beautiful pictures to show off.

This is the caverns other claim to fame (along with the wedding bell). The above picture is called the Turkey Leg. I don't see it, but someone must have in order to name it that.

So, that was your brief tour of the Dixie Caverns in the event you have never been into a cavern. Last year was my first time in a cavern (we ventured into the Natural Bridge caverns last summer) and its still amazing to see what water, mud, fault lines, air and time can do.

Like Father, Like Son-
After the caverns, we returned to the hotel. Jeff and I were relaxing on our bed and Zack on his. The curtains were open which overlooks the pool area. All of a sudden something caught Zack's attention outside and he jumped out of bed to investigate.

He reports back to use that there are "hot girls in bikinis out there, I want to go swimming". Jeff and I just looked at each other and asked why? Zack said, I want to go swimming. Jeff peaked out the window and realized there were two girls Zack's age out in the pool. After Zack asked several different ways to go out there, we caved and all three of us headed out to the pool area.
Jeff and I decided to sit and read while Zack swam. Zack tried to start a conversation with one of the girls, but it didn't take. He didn't give up though! He kept trying, but the girls got called in by their mother. Poor guy! He was just trying to make friends! After the girls left the pool area, he was ready to head back inside.

Well, like I said the other day, I have a mini Jeff on my hands. That apple definitely didn't fall far from that tree.

We don't have poker chips!

Last night, after our usual drive around with the top down adventure, we decided to head back to the hotel so the boys could take an evening dip. Well, by the time we got back, the girls softball team that arrived yesterday had taken over the pool area. The boys decided it was best to stay in and play poker (I can't believe the sight of some teenage girls would make the boys shy, but who knew).

The only thing was, we didn't have our poker chips. We did have a deck of cards (since I carry one in my travel bag for situations like this). Jeff came up with an idea. We each picked up a bag of potato chips for a snack to keep in the room, so we decided to use the potato chips and popcorn in place of the poker chips. Brilliant!

We divided up the chips to even piles. Zack's snack was the Cheddar popcorn and was worth a $500 poker chip, my snack chip was the Utz crap chip and was worth $200 and Jeff's Doritos was worth $100.

So, we made due and played our Texas Hold-Em using our potato chips and popcorn and played like we had regular poker chips. It was so fun!

Oh, and by the way I WON! I don't think I ever won a poker game with Jeff. That's right! When you have pockets Aces and your husband says "all in" at the sight of his hand, I agreed and said "all in" too! I flipped my cards and it was revealed that I won. Yeah baby!

Thanks to Jeff with his imagination working full force last night, we have a new way of playing poker and a great vacation memory.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pardon the Venting

Ok, I need to vent a little. Yeah, I vented with Jeff at supper, but I'm still fired-up around Zacks MOTHER. Please excuse the interruption of the happy go-lucky vacation stories. We are having a blast being here with Zack, but I can't stand HER.

I don't know where to start, so I'm just going to let my hands type-

His mom can't just make one phone call to find out whats going on. NO. She has to call a couple of times with questions she could have asked the first time she called. For example -On Saturday when we were waiting at the airport in Hartford, she called us. She wanted to check with times and the schedule for the next day. That would have been fine, but she had called the day before to ask the same questions! The thing was, her birthday was Saturday and I'm sure she wanted to see if Jeff would wish her a happy birthday (which he did because I reminded him, just to avoid any ill-feelings since she told me the month before when we were arranging the schedule).

She calls every day to talk with Zack. Which wouldn't be so bad if it was just ONCE a day. If she feels she couldn't say goodnight to him in an appropriate way, she'll call back about an hour later to do the same thing. The thing is, when SHE has Zack and Jeff tries to call him, her phone goes to voicemail (or she doesn't pick up), no one answers the home phone and she returns the call when she feels like it. She would have a fit if we ever did that to her (even though we are tempted we don't).

Also, we rented a convertible. Yes, we splurged but its our decision, its our money, its our little perk for HER moving to VA and making us come to VA to see Zack. So, when she makes a comment as she exits her car last Sunday "Oh, what a fancy convertible" in her jealous/envious voice that we both decided not to comment on, its like running fingernails down a chalk board for me.

Then on Monday we had to run by Zacks house to get his goggles. HER parents noticed our car. HER father said, oh look who makes the big bucks, how much did this run you?, what happened to the other car? Um, this is a rental I said, but they all made up their minds that we purchased this car. Then SHE mentions, oh its only a two seater (for the back seat) so you guys can only have one more kid. OK.....this is a rental and its none of her business how many kids we will have. I didn't even want to waste my breath after she made that comment so I just smiled.

Those are just a couple of things. I can go on and on about her and how she brain washes her child. That, I will save for a different time, but for now I appreciate you listening.

Please don't get me wrong. I love Zack. He IS my first child. He IS my step-son. I WILL do anything for him. I just can't stand his mother. She not only makes Jeff's life a living hell, I'm in on this ride too.

Day Five - Lazy Day

Today, we took advantage of not having anything planned and slept in LATE. We missed the hotels continental breakfast so we went out to get donuts from Krispy Kreme. We don't have one near us at home, so we had to work those donuts into our schedule some how!

After a very nutritious breakfast (wink, wink) we decided to spend most of the day by the pool. Once again, we had the pool and area all to ourselves. It was such a beautiful day to sit out by the pool and relax. It was definitely a good idea.

We spent a few hours playing in the water it was time to head out for a late lunch. After lunch, we decided to just hang out in the hotel room until it was time for Zack to go with his mom for her Wednesday night supper arrangement (yeah, its all BS if you ask me.....).

Zack jumpin' in the pool

Now, Jeff and I are waiting for the phone call to let us know that she is on her way. After Zack returns, the boys are planning on going back into the pool since its open until 10pm. I'm thinking about just sitting by the pool and reading my book as those two horse around in the water.

Zack & Jeff before Jeff tosses Zack in the water

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Day Four - Military Tuesday

Today we traveled an hour and half south to Danville VA to go visit the AAF Tank Museum. It was sort of an homage to Jeff's video game, Call of Duty.

It was definitely a long trip for the museum. Honestly, I don't know if it was worth the long ride, but if you are ever in the area definitely stop by. But, keep in mind that the main part of the museum does NOT have AC, so it can be a little warm (and it was for us today).

It was hard to take pictures since a flash could not be used, but I tried to capture what we had seen but, most were blurry so I can't show the images. Anyhow, in the museum there were sections dividing the different displays. They had sections showing the different uniforms, guns/weapons, patches, awards, posters, magazine articles and of course tanks ranging from the first wars to Dessert Storm. It was definitely an educational type of day.

Zack looking at one of the many gun cases

If you want to buy an army truck, this is the place to look

The tanks were huge!

After checking out the museum, we headed back to the hotel for the afternoon. After supper, we made it back to Thunder Valley for the go-karts that we were suppost to go to yesterday for Zack. He had a blast! I tried to get Jeff to go out there, but he was a party pooper!

I had a slightly disturbing realization today. We were driving around, Jeff driving, me in the front passenger side and Zack in the back of the car. All of a sudden I hear "I kissed a girl and I liked it...." in a small voice singing along to the radio. My realization is this, I have a mini Jeff on my hands and he is just like his father. Oh geeze, please help me!
PS. Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad

Monday, July 28, 2008

Day Three - Safari Park

Today's adventure brought us to Natural Bridge VA to the drive through Safari Park. We wanted to go last year, but never made it so this year it was a definite stop on our list.

As we made it through the main gate, we put the top down on the car and got our buckets of feed ready to give to the animals. The entrance into the park is here on the right and the animals just wait for the cars. It was crazy. We just didn't believe they would wait like that. So, we slowly made our way through the entrance and the animals were definitely looking for their food.

We had to slowly make our way towards the animals since all through the park it seemed like they were trained to walk in front of the car, make you stop and then they would mosey on over to the side for their food. Some of the animals that we saw were zebras, camels, ostriches, bison, deer, pigs, lamas, alpacas and we think reindeer in the safari drive through area. Here are some of our photos-

Ostriches and Lama at the entrance

Zack feeding the reindeer (we think that's what they were)

Me feeding the big guy with antlers

Feed me says the baby deer

One of the many camels in the park

Zack feeding the lama's
After the drive through safari there is a little walk through zoo with more exotic animals or the ones that should be behind a cage. These are some of the animals we encountered walking around-

Lots of goats around and they were very voice stress


Lily the tiger

The warthog we called Pumba

Zack feeding the giraffe
I would say if you ever are in the area to see the drive through safari, definitely stop by. We went early in the day before it go too hot so the animals were still active and hungry since many cars hadn't gone through yet. It was a blast.

Zack sitting of the edge of the pool on the upper left corner

After spending most of the day at the safari, it was time to head back to the hotel and take a dip in the pool. It was great since we had the whole pool and area to ourselves. I can't wait to do it again tomorrow.

After supper, it was time for the boys to show off their bowling skills (we were suppost to go to the go-carts, but they were closed on Mondays and I didn't have socks on since I had sandals, so I was the cheerleader). But it was fun watching them play and they had fun too.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Day Two - Check it off your list!

Today was a busy one! But first, check out our rental car. We've wanted a convertible for some time now (for a rental) and hopefully soon there will be a little one in our future, so I wanted to get it out of our system. Its a Chrysler Sebring.

So, this morning we met up with Zack and his mom (Of course she made a comment about the convertible that we both ignored). And then, it was the start of our great vacation together.

Zack announced he has 3 index cards covered with a check list of things he wants to do during the week. We have our hands full, so we started to check things off his list as soon as we could.

Zack taking a swing, but he caught me taking a picture
The first stop was Lakeside driving range. Zack was the only one with clubs since we flew, so we sat in the comfy rocking chairs and watched him hit a buck of balls. His hitting has improved a lot since we were able to see him hit back in March (since in May we had no time for golf). Sometime this week we will go to the local par-3 (yup, its on his check-list).

Jeff and Zack feeding the brave geese
After we made a trip to Walmart (yup, it was on his list too for a video game) and ate lunch, we stopped at the local "duck pond". Its a cute little park with a big pond with a water fountain that the local ducks hang out to be fed. We bought a loaf of bread at Walmart just for the ducks and let me tell you, we went through it very quickly. There was one VERY brave goose that took the bread right from your hand (like Zack below). When I did it, he wouldn't leave and kept getting closer and closer. Zack had to come over and save me since I ran out of bread. Phew! He's my hero!

After the duck pond, we did some more driving around town we ended up at the mall. The boys went shopping and I got a pedicure. Oh, it was great! I let Zack pick out my new color and he chose midnight blue. I don't think I've had blue toes since high school, but went with it anyway. The end result, not bad. After the mall, we went back to the hotel so Jeff could nap, Zack could play his new PSP game and I could read. It was time to take it easy and relax.
After supper, we wanted to do something outside since the heat was gone and it was beautiful outside. There was a lite breeze in the air, great top down on the car weather. So, we decided to go play some mini-golf (after we drove around with the wind blowing through our hair).

Zack taking his shot
I guess today had a golf theme, but that is usually what happens when Jeff and Zack get together. Well, we played our mini-golf and Jeff won, then Zack and finally me. That's not fair! I wasn't concentrating on the game, just taking pictures. I think that's a new handicap for the game! What do you thing?

Sunset in Salem, VA at Thunder Valley
After mini-golf, we didn't want to go back to the hotel since it was so nice. We decided to go and get some ice cream. We went to Zack's favorite place and took care of another thing on his list. Phew, we are knockin' those off left and right. We took care of 4 things on his monstrous list today. We are on a roll! Can't wait to see what's in store for tomorrow.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Day One - Arrival

I was pleasantly surprised when we were able to fit Jeff's laptop into our luggage (carry-on of course). We didn't think we were going to be able to, but Jeff made it happen since he didn't want me to go into blog withdraw. Isn't he a sweetie? The wi-fi is a little spottie here at the hotel, so if I can past that, things will be wonderful.

Our flights went well. We flew out of Hartford (that's our plane there), into Baltimore for our lay-over and then continued to fly into NC. Then we drove to Southern VA.

But before we left the airport in Hartford, I found an interesting book in one of the gift shops. I know I have plenty of books (along with one that I am more then half way done with at home, but didn't bring it with me because of the size and weight, so I left it), but I couldn't resist a challenge. The challenge is a book return program at select airports and if you return a book within 6 months, you get half the purchase price back. So, I thought of this as a challenge for the week and decided to buy it.

So, my vacation book will be Playing for Pizza by John Grisham. It not his typical legal thriller, but a little something completely different. Every once in awhile, he produces something outside of his realm and they are just as enticing as his usual writings.

Now we are relaxing in our hotel. We get Zack tomorrow morning and we can't wait.

*Vacation Notice*

I am heading south today with Jeff to go see Zack. I might have access to a computer during the week, depending on what the hotel has so I can check in with my friends, but I will definitely share my vacation stories and pictures when I am near my computer again back home. Be prepared for lots of adventure stories!

Friday, July 25, 2008

And the winner is......

First......thanks to everyone who entered! I hope all the new readers continue to read about my every day adventures, flashbacks and what ever else may arise. And of course to my faithful readers, I love it that you stop by to see how things are in my neck of the woods!

Second....I want to answer my pay-it-forward question! If I could click my heals and go anywhere, it would either to go back to Hawaii and spend my days in paradise or if I could go back in the past it would be to see my grandma Dorthy one last time and tell her that I love her.

OK, now for the winner (drum roll please)..........

My niece picked the winner out of a bowl of names on folded pieces of paper (I know, real high tech) and she picked SHELLY OVERLOOK aka SCENIC OVERLOOK. Yeah for her!

Vegas Memories

Before I hop into showing off some of my Vegas wedding photos, let me start off with a flashback to July 2004.

It was vacation time back in 2004. Myself, my boyfriend Jeff, his SIL Sarah and his brother John all came together for a week trip to Arizona. We had decided that we should go to Vegas for the night since we were so close.

After we arrived in Vegas and we walked around on the strip and came across the Venetian Casino Hotel which has gondola rides out front. I asked Jeff if we could go! We had to put ourselves on a wait list, but we walked around the casino and the hotels lavish shops until it was time for our ride.

Jeff and I boarded the boat and started the slow romantic ride through Vegas' own Italy canals. After we passed under the bridge (shown above) Jeff started to say something but I quickly interrupted him making a comment about the Starbucks sign I has just seen (yeah, I will never live that part down). After a little pause Jeff started to say something again and this time I realized what he was asking. He pulled a ring out of his pocket and held it up to ask me to be his wife. I smiled so big (I felt like I had the kool-aid pitcher smile on my face) and told him of course I would.

After spreading the news of our engagement, it was time to figure out what we wanted to do for our wedding. I had asked Jeff what kind of wedding he wanted and he said just something small and intimate. I knew I couldn't get away with a small wedding with my large family around here, so it was decided we would have a destination wedding. After some thinking, we brainstormed and wanted to return to Vegas since that is where our wedding story began.

I thought it would be a full circle if we could get married at the Venetian, but those prices for the wedding packages were out of control. So, I researched all the chapels in the hotels on the strip and found one at the Luxor that fit into our price range (and if we got married during the week, it was an even better discount). We decided to get married on Monday 7/31/2006 .

Luxor Hotel

There was a small group of us that went to Vegas for our special day. My parents, Jeff's dad, Jeff's dad's friend Julian, John, Sarah, Jeff and myself where there for the long weekend. We got there on Saturday and on Sunday walked up the new Vegas strip and visited Old Vegas.

Sphinx outside of the hotel

On Monday it was wedding day. Jeff's brother was his best man, my soon to be SIL was my made of honor and our parents and Julian were our guests. Since we were already married, we didn't do any of the bride can't see the groom on the day of the wedding, but I didn't want him to see me all dressed up until it was time in the chapel. So when it was time for our (me and my SIL) hair and make-up appointment, that is when the girls and guys went their separate ways.

All dressed up and waiting for showtime

Putting on the last touches

Jeff checking his odds before waking into the chapel

I couldn't find the link for the "professional" photos' from the ceremony and there was no camera's allowed either. So, I can't show you pictures from the actual ceremony, but here are some that took place after. Oh, and my make-up was a little too heavy, but that's what the beauty boutique did for me and I really didn't have time to do much touch-up. I just wanted to pass that tid-bit along.

Mom, Dad, Me & Jeff

Me and my FIL

*I accidentally deleted the picture of my SIL & BIL and another one of just me when I was doing the finishing touches on this entry since I started it at home. So, I owe two pictures! I didn't forget to post the one with my SIL & BIL. I just wanted Sarah to know I didn't forget about them!*