Saturday, August 21, 2010

Calvin's Home Town

After spending 3 days in Denver - we headed to Siletz, Oregon to visit Calvin's family. It is a rather large family with both his Mother's side and his Father's side right there together in Siletz and the surrounding towns. The main purpose of this trip was to meet our niece - Aaliyah. Jermaine and Angie had this beautiful baby girl on July 26, just one day after her due date!

Jermaine and his little girl.

A very proud Grandma Luann.

This was also our first time meeting Angie and her two boys Darian and Cayden. We enjoyed playing with them very much. Angie is great and she has awesome little boys.

One part of visiting Oregon I've made mandatory every time we go is visiting Newport Bay. It's only 15 mins away from where Calvin grew up. Really there's 3 main reasons why I always have to go there. 1. It's beautiful. 2. The Rogue microbrewery is there with not only great beer but also the best clam chowder I've ever had. 3. Most importantly, there is a perfect little mom and pop taffy store called Newport Candy Shoppe that sells all kinds of yummy taffy. The key is that their taffy is made with egg whites only, which makes it super soft. I love it so much. It's one of my favorite things.

Newport Bay Bridge

On this particular trip, Sea Lions were all over the bay. They were very fun to watch. If you're a local, Calvin claims they're very annoying and loud. As a visitor they're pretty amusing.

(I'm still working on posting a video of the seals here)

While we were in Oregon - it was also Pow Wow weekend in Siletz. This is an annual event to celebrate the town's heritage. Over half the town has some form of Native American ancestry. They are all a part of the Confederate Tribes of Siletz and most of the town is an Indian reservation. The main attraction for the Pow Wow is competition dancing in different types of native tradition. The singers and drummers were amazing. There is also a ton of beautiful jewelry for sale and there are Indian tacos. An Indian taco is basically taking the ingredients that make up a taco and putting it on top of Indian fry bread (much like an elephant ear here in the south). Super Yummy.

On the left are the Grand Marshals for the parade into the Pow Wow, and on the right there is a real little buddy hanging out in that carrier!

On this trip we did have the freedom to hop around from place to place. So we spent 2 nights with Calvin's Mom, 1 night with Grandma Maggie, 2 nights camping in Aunt Kristy's and Cousin Jennifer's back yard, and 1 night in John's trophy room. It worked out well. Plus I really enjoyed the cook out and camp fire by the river while we were at Aunt Kristy's. Chrystal, Calvin's sister, also came in from Montana to visit for the weekend. So it was good to see her as well. At the camp fire John told incredibly entertaining stories of his encounters with bears.

This trip was the first time we went to John's house. He lives there with his wife Lisa, and her children Stephanie and Joe. Their house is beautiful. It's sits all by itself on top of a mountain. You have to drive 2 miles straight down hill to get to their nearest neighbor. Below is a picture of the view from their back yard. Oh yeah, and those stories he had about bears, most of them occurred right there on the property surrounding his house.

John and Lisa's back yard view.

I do have to mention that John has quite a trophy room a his house. It's perfect for having a separate guest house and impressing hunters that he is hosts as a hunting and fishing guide. It's also very impressive that John killed most of these animals with his bow. Just to give you a feel for the room, here are some pictures from our guest bed. John thought it was pretty funny that I made Calvin leave a rather bright night light on for me.

The first picture is of the Elk that was staring at us from the foot of the bed. (That's also a great picture of John in the background when he was younger. Looks just like Calvin's pictures from high school.) The second picture is of the bear that was above our heads, and the third picture is of the Caribou that was just to the right of Calvin. - Yes, that is Calvin picking the Caribou's nose as we were laying in bed. It needed to be cleaned. :)

One of the things Oregon is most known for is its beautiful coast. Here's my favorite picture I've taken of it to date. I took this from the front seat of John's RV as we were driving back to his house in Elkton. It turned out to be a great shot considering we were driving as I took it!

Also, a big thanks to Mikey and Tia for taking a night out away from the kids to spend time with us. We really love seeing you guys.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Rocky Mountian High with Sunshine on my Shoulders

Calvin and I went on a 10 day vacation from the 6th through the 16th and we had so much fun! 10 days is a long time to be gone, and it felt great!

The first 3 days we spent in Denver visiting 2 of my aunts and their husbands (my dad's twin sister Diane, and their baby sister Denise plus Jack and Bill)

They greeted us at the airport with a sign, and immediately fed us and took us to downtown Denver to see 16th Street Mall. It was a lovely place. Plus there was a bar on the 37th floor of this fancy hotel we went to for a couple of drinks, dip your own strawberries, and a panoramic view of downtown Denver.

Uncle Jack was trying to persuade us just to hung out there... :)

View from the bar.

Sunday we had a wonderful breakfast at my Aunt Diane's house. Believe it or not, her kitchen was stocked with the EXACT same things we keep in ours! Then we headed to Rocky Mountain National Park. I picked a couple of day hike trails I wanted to go on there. The first was .6 miles to Alberta Falls and then that trail fed into a 2.5 mile hike to Mills Lake. Aunt Diane came with us the entire way! And we were pretty proud of Aunt Denise and Uncle Bill making it to Alberta Falls. Uncle Jack hiked to both Alberta falls and Bear Lake which is pretty dang impressive given his asthma and the altitude.

Monday we headed to Garden of the Gods which is the beautiful park with giant red rock formations. Although it never rains in Denver, it did decide to rain on us that day in Colorado Springs. The sides of the road flooded with a torrent of bright red water all over the park and in the downtown area too. It was still beautiful to see the huge red rocks, I'm just glad that I was vetoed on the horseback riding idea. The family saved me on that one.

They got creative when they named this one "Balanced Rock"

Because it never rains, we didn't have umbrellas. This was us hiding from the rain in the trees.

After lunch we visited the Air Force Academy campus and then headed back to Aunt Denise and Uncle Bill's house for Mongolian hot pot. This is sort of like fondue in that you cook your own meat in broth at the table; however at the end of the meal Uncle Bill threw in all these yummy vegetables and noodles to create a delicious soup. There were 5 dipping sauces and rice to accompany the meal, but I do have to say that the soup at the end was my favorite part.

On our return to the airport we got a little tour of the schools and homes my cousin Travis grew up in. It was some good story telling time too. After we checked our bags we hung out for a little while before going through security. Talk of planning a family reunion came back up again, and I really think Aunt Denise will be the one to get us all together. My vote is for Williamsburg, VA!

Thank you Aunt Diane, Uncle Jack, Aunt Denise, and Uncle Bill for a wonderful trip. You all treated us so well, and we are so glad that we were able to spend time with you and see where you live. I look forward to coming back again.

More on the second part of the trip to Oregon later...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Probasco in the House!

Calvin's best friend from college, Andy Probasco, graced us with his presence this past week. We loved having him around. He wins big time as being the easiest house guest to ever have on the face of the planet. And each night after work it was like going on vacation right here in town. Activities included (but were not limited to): Durham Bulls game, Putt Putt, Bowling, and movies. The boys also took a day to go to Carowinds and the NASCAR Hall of fame. We ate out at our favorite places and enjoyed Local Yogurt and Loco Pops. Oh yeah, and I also learned a new handshake.

Thanks for coming to visit Andy!

We're now looking forward to a quiet week before our trip to Colorado and Oregon to visit family. National Parks are in store while we visit my Aunt Diane and Aunt Denise. Then we get to meet our niece Aaliyah, attend a Pow Wow, and see the Redwoods in Oregon with Calvin's family. Should be fun!