Sunday, June 25, 2017

Steamboat Colorado

I almost forgot I had a blog. 

My schedule is always crazy hectic through tax season/dance recital each year. They both come at the same time, and I am a crazy person from February/March-May.  Dance recital was on May 13th this year so I've had over a month to catch my breath.

Although it's been awhile since we made the road trip to Colorado, I still wanted to blog about it.  I know the memories and stories aren't as fresh on my mind as they were four months ago, but something is better than nothing. 

So- rewind to last spring at Bill Hill.  (That's a hunting camp for those who do not know.)  Austin and I were there for a craw fish boil and we were hanging out by the fire with Jason, Justin and Madison Hurdle.  Brandi was working.  I started talking about vacationing to Madison, because I always talk about vacationing, and then the Hurdles started to tell me about a few Colorado ski trips they had been on.  Before long, Jason or Justin (I didn't know the difference at the time) went inside to ask Thomas if he would be down for a ski trip sometime in the near future. I don't even recall Thomas' response, only Jason remembering that his wife was with child and he would soon have a newborn at home.  End of discussion. 

Fast forward to October of last year, the ski trip discussion got brought up again.  I don't even remember how.  I just know that we were talking about going skiing and then one night we did a group call thingie where we could all hear each other and Brandi had prices.  I ran it by my boss thinking it may never actually happen.  You know those things that always sound like a fun idea, but deep down you don't really think they'll ever come to fruition?  In my mind, the chances of all eight of us getting off work at the same time and trekking it to Colorado sounded like way too much fun to really happen!  I was wrong. Within a few days after the phone call, we were all in and it was booked. I was so excited!

After booking the trip in October, Thomas and Jamie got engaged in December. 

Just whenever I thought I could not be more excited, they decided to get hitched in Colorado.  We added a few days to the trip to incorporate their WEDDING!

We started a group text where we counted down the days and rattled off about the anticipation.

On Thursday, February 16, we met up at Thomas' house around 10am and loaded down the 12 passenger.  And I do mean loaded down.  Have you ever seen a vehicle so funny looking?! 

In this picture, you can really tell how sick I felt!  I had a really bad cold and I blew my nose all the way to Colorado.

We were only about 5 minutes from home whenever Jamie asked Thomas if he had the ring.  Must have the essentials!  He pulled over, found it in the back after looking for a few minutes and got us back on the road!  With minimal stopping, we drove until relatively late and then stopped for supper at Chilli's. It took a sweet forever and then we were back on the road.  I was pretty sick at this stop. I can remember starting to lose my voice and not being able to taste my food.  Things were not looking well for my condition at the time!  After supper, the boys took turns driving through the night.  I slept relatively good and only really remember waking up whenever one of the boys spotted a "Make America Great Again" hat from the van and they all went inside to purchase one.  I think we were in Oklahoma at that point.  

We stopped to eat breakfast at iHop and let traffic die down that morning in Denver.  Then we were on the road to our final destination- Steamboat!  Whenever we made it into town, we went to the courthouse for the honeymooners to get their marriage licenses and explored downtown a little bit. I almost hacked up a lung in the bathroom of a coffee shop downtown.  I was sounding like a man. 

Whenever they had the license, we went back to the resort and found the ski rental shop so that the day after the wedding, we could start the morning skiing and not at the rental shop.  We all got fitted for our skis and ski boots and things started to get a little real.  The ski rental shop was near the wedding location (the Sheraton), so Jamie went in to see where it was all going down the next day!

After our fitting and seeing the wedding spot, we unload our things and then made a trip to the grocery store for the week's groceries.  We surprisingly did not eat out at all and I loved it.  Crockpot for the win! After we unloaded groceries, we took showers and got in the bed.  It had been a long trip and we needed to be well rested for the big day ahead!

Saturday morning, the girls got up and went to the spa for manicures and for Jamie to get her hair done for the wedding.  It was quite enjoyable.  Jamie and Brandi got their nails done first while Madison and I waited.  We switched up, and then we all watched Jamie get her hair fixed up.

After we got back to the room, we all left again to give Jamie and Thomas some time to get ready and exchange their gifts to each other without an audience.  That's what we told them anyway- we really went to get the cake we had ordered from the bakery weeks before! 

Here the boys are embarrassing me in their hats before we hopped on the bus to go into town.

Going to get the cake turned into a little fiasco and we were almost late to the wedding.  We got on the wrong bus back to the condo.  It kept going the wrong way and we eventually realized what was going on and got off!  We ran around downtown Steamboat with a cake and it made for a fun little memory. Whenever we got back to the condo, we took the bride and groom to the Sheraton and then took the van back to the condo to make sure it wasn't towed.  While they took pictures, we hung out in the room and then walked back down to the Sheraton. We stopped for some pictures with the slopes since we were dressed up!

After making it back to Thomas and Jamie, it wasn't long before they were gathering us up for the ceremony.  It was just as precious and beautiful as you would imagine and I even got a little teary.

Whenever it was done, the photographer took us outside at the base of the mountain for a group picture and all of the people around were cheering for the newlyweds.  It was cute.

We enjoyed hanging out on the patio at the Sheraton for a little bit, and then we went inside for dinner. 

It was super nice and yummy. One memory from the meal- I sat across from Brandi and she ordered "fingerlings" because Jason said that it was a fancy word for French fries.  I don't remember what fingerlings are, but they definitely aren't fries.  I think we all had steak and a side of some sort.  After dinner, we ate the cake and went back to the room with a married couple! Whoop whoop.

Whenever we got back, I practiced putting on my skis and boots.  Look at the confidence.  If I had only known how the next day would progress....

We got up early Sunday morning and started layering the clothes.  If I had known how the day would go down, I would have probably worn about half as much. After everybody got dressed, which seemed like a real accomplishment, we started making our way out of the condo, down stairs (in our ski boots), carrying our skis.  Quite the task. I was really feeling good about things and conquering the steps like it was my job.  It was early and the lifts weren't running yet.  (Good thing!)  I would guess that we walked about 100 yards to get to the slope where we were going to "learn" to ski.  We split up into pairs of skied before/never skied before.  Justin/Myself.  Jason/Austin.  Thomas/Jamie.  Madison and Brandi were just refreshing their memory!  I obviously busted it SEVERAL times, as did we all.  I had moments of uncontrollable laughter.  Sometimes whenever I am nervous, I laugh.  So I laughed a lot.  Some because I was nervous and some because seeing someone bust it is just really funny.  I would consider the 1st hour or so for me to be pretty decent.  I made it to the bottom before the other beginners and I wish that the 1st hour would have been a representation of what the rest of the trip was like for me!!  After we made it to the bottom, a few people were out and about at the base of the mountain.  We walked over to the carpet to spend some time there getting more comfortable with things.  The "magic carpet" is just a conveyor belt that takes you to the top of a small hill and you can ski down, repeat as many times as you'd like. 

I was gaining confidence and thought I may actually rock at skiing by this point.  I mean, I am a coordinated dancer, why shouldn't I?!  Later thought-- dancing has nothing to do with skiing.  

After the carpet started to be taken over by ski schoolers, we made our way to the ski lift to get on an actual slope.  I was terrified because the lift was my worst fear from the very beginning.  The ride was okay except there were no bars over us and I fell coming off of it.  No big deal.  I survived.  My feet were back on the ground.  My first lift did not kill me!  (Later, one almost did.) The name of the slope was PREVIEW that we were practicing on.  I did okay the first time down, but not great.  PREVIEW was obviously a lot more difficult than the magic carpet.  I didn't really keep up with Austin through all of this because I had to just worry about myself under these circumstances.  We were all semi-close together but not right on each other.  Justin was a super good and patient teacher and he helped me a lot!  After making it down PREVIEW once, I had the bright idea that I would just practice some more on PREVIEW by myself so that everybody could just do their own thing.  NOT a good idea.  At one point, I busted it and I was stuck.  I was on ice.  I couldn't get my skis off.  I knew if I stood up, it was going to do me no favors and I would be back on the ground in no time flat.  So I'm just hanging out in some awkward position on a slope, stuck, in ice and trying to look cool like I'm just catching my breath but really panicking because I have no idea how I'm going to get the ski off and get up.  I eventually got the ski off and walked back down to the carpet.  And that is where things started to go downhill for me.....  I eventually got in my head pretty bad and I was scared.  The first time Austin and I rode the lift together, I overthought it so much that I didn't get off until I realized that it was headed back down the mountain.  I fell off of it at that point.  It stopped and the lady sitting in the booth ran out to make sure I was okay.  Sure.  I am FINE.  And all Austin would say is, "You didn't get off!!"

The seasoned skiers thought that it would be less crowded and less icy on up the mountain.  So we made the not-so wise decision to take a lift on further up.  I didn't fall getting off of it and I was super pumped about that.  These slopes were less icy, but they were also more narrow.  It was sometime shortly after I fell about 10000 times that I took my skis off and it was over for me.  Jamie wasn't far behind me.  I remember stopping to take in the view and get a few pictures because I had already accepted the fact that I probably wouldn't be back up that far again in the duration of the trip. 

We stopped at a crossroads, just Jamie Thomas and I, and everybody else went on ahead.  We were at the top of a big hill and after much contemplation I decided sliding on my bottom down the hill looked like a good option since I was about to hike about 3 miles back to the room after that.  Several people asked if they could help me and I assured them that I was fine and I was close to my condo.  I thought I was.  They probably knew I was miles from any condo, but they didn't mention it.  So together, Jamie and I hiked back to the condo carrying our skis with Austin and Thomas skiing ahead of us and stopping to wait on us fairly often.  I was HOT.  Whenever we got back to the room, finally, I looked like I had been in the shower.  We both did!  I even took a picture to capture the momentous occasion that getting back to the room was for us.  We were somehow still smiling :)

We ate lunch and needless to say, Jamie and I did not go back to the slopes for more.  Austin kept up with the experienced skiers somehow, and I think he had fun.  While they skied, we napped and I was happy about it.  We cooked in that night and went to the hot tub. 

The next morning whenever we woke up, Thomas was sick.  So sick he didn't ski and Jamie took him to a nearby clinic where he was diagnosed with the flu.  Whenever I got up and saw that she had gotten out of ski day #2, I was a little hesitant about what to do!  I thought I would give it another try, so Austin stayed with me and we took it slow.  I made it down to the carpet and skied there for awhile.  I had just gotten so terrified that I was even scared on the carpet a little bit.  I had regressed instead of progressed.  Whenever the ski schoolers started making their way to the carpet on this morning, I decided I was done.  Austin walked with me (in ski boots) back to the room though the parking lots.  Bless him.  We got a bite to eat and he went back out after lunch with the boys.  Madison was ready for a break after lunch so the two of us got ready and went downtown to shop while everybody else skied.  Except Thomas and Jamie.  They were just laid up, bless their hearts.  Before we went downtown, I went out to the base of the mountain and people watched.  Watching people ski is a whole lot more fun than skiing.  A lot more relaxing, too.  Downtown was really cute and we got some good t-shirts and scoped out places to come back to whenever everybody was with us. 

After everybody got back to the room from skiing and ate, we headed back downtown with everybody except Thomas and Jamie.  

We found this shirt for Austin and thought it fit him well.

I think this is whenever we started to discuss going home the next evening instead of staying another night.  Since I was obviously not skiing all over the mountain, I didn't mind at all.  And even the skiers were tired.  The next morning I didn't even pretend like I was going to ski. Madison and I went back to town with Jamie since she hadn't been and then we took the gondola to meet the skiers on the top of the mountain for a group picture.  They tell me this wasn't the top.  But it's as high as I got!

We started the long trip home later than evening.  The trip home was a lot quieter than the trip to Steamboat.  We were all wiped out.  I had pretty much rid myself of the cold, but others were taking up my slack.  There was lots of nose blowing, harking, and coughing going on. 

We stopped as little as possible and only one time to really eat at a Subway!  I think we were all relieved to see Leake County. 

Thomas got sick and I was terrible at skiing, but this was still one of the best trips I've ever been on.  I hope there are more trips like this one in our future with this little crew that is growing rapidly!! And here we all are reunited at Thomas and Jamie's wedding reception in Philadelphia!  
I love these folks!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year

Last night as I was scrolling through Facebook, I saw several posts where people were recapping their year.  It caused me to start reflecting on my own 2016.  At first thought, I couldn't really come up with anything significant that happened throughout the year!  I went through my Facebook  mobile uploads to check out what I had posted in 2016 and remind myself of some of the good things that came our way throughout the year!


We got two fur babies!  We love Bandit and Daisy a whole lot and they are sitting in the living room floor with me and Austin as I type.  They are spoiled rotten.


We celebrated me finally passing the CPA exam!! Thank you, Lord. We also road tripped to Houston to see the Preislers and go to the Houston rodeo.  



We successfully pulled off the 16th annual dance recital for Teresa's Studio of Dance.

Throughout the summer, we enjoyed spending the afternoons swinging at Mama Jim's, evening walks, porch sitting and playing with the pups.  


Our first married fair went down in the books and it was the greatest ever!


August brought a trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming that I won't soon forget.  


October was full of weddings that were so much fun.


We took the dance crew on the train to NYC for an adventure of a week.


We spent time getting ready for Christmas and enjoying is with our families and friends.

A few hopes for 2017:
put my phone down more
be present
love bigger
exercise more 
get in my Bible on the daily
be the best version of me i can be

At church today, the sermon was about where we spend our time.  We can't get it back, so we need to make it count!  I plan on making 2017 count!

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. Psalm 1:1-3

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

the city that never sleeps- part 2

On Monday morning, we were up early and in the rehearsal hall to check the girls out from their chaperones. After checking them out, we headed to the Statue of Liberty as a group.... A group of over 600!!  Spirit of America does a great job of managing such a large group, but its obviously a little slow pace.  We made our way to our first subway of the trip.  It turned out to be a memory I won't soon forget.  Since we had a huge group, we were literally stuffed like sardines onto the subway.  Our group of 20 was terrified of getting separated on the subway, so seeing us move when the doors opened to hop on was quite comical.  We stuck together and moved as one unit.  The common people of NYC were probably not too pleased with us, to say the least.  We made it to the Statue of Liberty Harbor Cruise and waited for a little while to get on our boat.  The wait was cold, but we survived.  Whenever we got on the boat, we claimed a park bench outside in a place where the wind was blocked.  Some of our crew got inside where it was warm.  I think everybody enjoyed seeing Lady Liberty.

We took the time on the boat to take a Kea family photo.  Lisa and Lucinda are mom's first cousins.  Kea is my first cousin.  This dance trip kind of turned into a family affair and I loved it.

Whenever we got off of the boat, we went to the 9-11 Memorial with a smaller group from Spirit of America and then made our way to Macy's.
The girls had to be back to the hotel and ready for NBC rehearsal at Macy's by 6:00.  We took the time to go to Ellen's Stardust Diner.  It's been more fun in years past when we have been, but I still love the place!  The waiters and waitresses are aspiring to be on Broadway and someone is singing the entire time.  They're very talented and it gives a fun atmosphere.  The girls stayed up late practicing and sorting their red jackets that had gotten mixed up whenever they took them off at Macy's rehearsal!

On Tuesday morning, some of our group was up at the crack of dawn to go to the Today Show.  Mom and I decided to wait since "Today Show" was on the Spirit of America schedule for the day and we thought it may be super crowded.  Turns out the majority of the girls opted to sleep instead of doing the Today Show at 6am.  After the Today Show, we went to McDonalds for breakfast and everybody did their own thing.  Beccy, Morgan, Lisa, Jaden, Jenn, Hanna, Kea, Mom and I went to the Brooklyn Bridge.  Figuring the Subway out stressed me out a little bit, but I had good help.  The Brooklyn Bridge was probably my favorite thing from this trip.  It was something I hadn't seen before and it was so, so pretty!

The view was awesome.  After we made it across the bridge, Mom, Landon Kea and I went down to Wall Street before heading back toward Midtown.
We made it to the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular a few minutes late, but we made it nontheless.  The boys slept through it and some of the girls did too!  They were so exhausted! After the show, we went and got pizza at Sbrarro and did some souvenir shopping.
Afterwards, mom and I got tickets to see Lion King the next night and then went to Bryant Park. We really loved Bryant Park.  It had a cute skating rink, Christmas tree, and cute little shops all set to Christmas music and lights. She got a treat that looked out of this world good, but I was still feeling a little sick so I didn't indulge.  Our night was cut short whenever a random guy ran into the table we were sitting at and then made a scene like I had intentionally tripped him.  I'm pretty sure he intentionally ran into our table!  A guy nearby saw what was going on and asked him if he had a problem.  I gave the guy who came to our rescue a thank you and we got out of dodge.  I found the mace in my purse after we had made it about two blocks.  Fail.

Wednesday morning, mom and I got up early (starting to see trend here?) and walked passed the Today Show to see Al and Matt.  We were planning to go back on Friday morning, but Al & Matt are off on Friday after the parade on Thursday.  We walked by a few times and got some pictures of them, and then went and got breakfast at a little cafe behind the hotel.  We took our breakfast to the rehearsal hall where the girls had started a dress rehearsal for their parents at 8am.
 I stayed long enough to see them perform their number with music once and then went back to the room to catch a break while I could!

We got the boys and headed to Macy's to shop a little.  I lucked up because all of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade stuff was half off by Wednesday.  Score.  We ate at Sbrarro and then found a good place to wait on the rest of the group to make their way over to go to the Empire State Building.  By this time, I think everybody was completely exhausted and starting to feel the lack of sleep.  We have seen the Empire State Building at night before, and I think it was prettier!

It's still an awesome view though.  After the Empire State Building, most of the group went to Central Park.  We took some cute pictures and enjoyed being semi-laid back for a short time.

The Central Park skating rink is my favorite! After Central Park, we split up and a smaller group of us made our way up 5th Avenue and past Trump Tower. We found a place to eat and then mom and I went to see Lion King on Broadway!  Spirit of America offered an extra Broadway show (Wicked) for an additional fee whenever we registered.  We chose not to take advantage of the offer.  First of all, it already cost and arm and a leg and $120 extra dollar just didn't strike my fancy.  Also, I thought I would probably rather see Lion King if we saw another show.  I'm glad we did it, but I wouldn't have to see it again.  It may have been better if we hadn't been on the very tip top row of the theater!  We laughed a lot about how tired we were and the possibility of falling asleep during a show that costs us a pretty penny.  It was HOT up in there too and I stripped down to my cuddle duds.  Cuddle duds are like long johns.  They were thick and fleece, so it was kind of like leggings and a fitted top.  I also shucked my shoes.  Uggs make my feet hot hot hot.  Lets just say I probably didn't meet the dress code and thank goodness for dark theaters.

We took the well lit streets back to the room and got in bed as quickly as possible.  Every minute of sleep counts when you're getting up at 4am.  Thursday morning, we were on the road by 5am.  Whenever we walked out of the Hilton we saw quickly that we were not going to get a front row seat on our side of the road.  We crossed the road and gave up the luxury of a restroom for the next 6 hours to have a front row seat for the parade.  #worthit  We spread out blankets on the side walk to save spots for the rest of the spectators in our group.  Most of them were still helping the girls get ready whenever we made it out to the sidewalk!

 Parade morning was most definitely the coldest I got the whole week.  We were sitting in the same place for hours.  I had lots of layers, a blanket, hot hands, feet warmers, Uggs... and I was still pretty frigid.  I couldn't help but think about the dancers in their skimpy costumes and tights out there somewhere freezing their tails off!!  They were given wind blockers like runners use, but from what I've heard those didn't help too much!  There was a Starbucks near us but nobody would get one because we knew we would need a restroom and there wasn't one.  Not without crossing the road and potentially getting stuck over there!  Bathrooms in NYC are few and far between.  The security itself at the parade was something to see.  NYPD was everywhere.  We are pretty certain that an undercover cop was nearby us the entire time.  A middle age guy with a black coat on propped up on a mailbox behind us super early in the morning.  He was by himself and he stayed there the entire time.

The parade started at 9 and was in front of us around 9:30.  It isn't quite as magical as it is on TV with all of the background music and such, but it is still pretty awesome. Whenever the Spirit of America groups passed us, everybody lost their mind hollering and acting crazy.  Since we were in front of the Hilton where everybody was staying, that is to be expected.  We spotted a few of the girls, but I don't think they saw us.  We didn't make it back into the room in time to catch their performance on TV.  We may have if we had not been across the road!  After Santa made his way by us, we went inside to thaw out and thanked the Lord we were safe because there was so much hype about terrorism during the parade.

There was a lot of adrenaline going in the Hilton whenever the girls came back from performing and then they started to crash.
We got a group picture and gave everybody a time to meet downstairs to go to Thanksgiving lunch.  I called and bumped up our reservation, which thankfully wasn't a problem.  The parade didn't last as long as we thought it would and everybody was hungry.  I set out to have a few moments to myself and find the restaurant.  I had made reservations a month prior, but I wanted to make sure I knew where it was so I could give everybody directions.  It's hard to herd a lot of people even whenever they're cooperative and helpful! Especially whenever everybody is a little lost and the majority is just following the person in front of them with no actual clue where they are!  Haha.  Anyway. I found the restaurant and called mom with the directions.  We ate at O'Lunney's and they were very accommodating, had a wide variety on the menu and served us up a decent Thanksgiving lunch.  I ordered a quesadilla and started smashing it before I realized I probably needed to hold back.  My stomach wasn't doing me any favors, even this far into the week!

After we ate and about half the girls fell asleep in the restaurant, we found the Subway to the 9-11 Memorial.  Subway Selfie!
 About half way into our subway ride, they announced that the route we were taking was down.  Great.  So we walk up out of the subway lost with no idea which way to go!  Tina put the address into her iPhone and saved the day.  We made it right on time for our 4:30 reservation at the memorial.  I found a restroom in the memorial and went and stripped about 2 layers and put them in my backpack!  It got warm.  The memorial is very well done and worth seeing.

Most of its contents include things leftover from the buildings.  I was really interested in reading some of the first hand accounts of what happened that day.  If I hadn't been super tired and with a big group, we probably could have spent a little more time in there.  Whenever we got back close to the hotel, everybody split up.  A lot of our group went back to the room, but not us!  Mom, Beccy, Kea and I went back to Bryant Park.  Kea got churros and then we found the NY Public Library as well as Grand Central Station.  Grand Central was another favorite for me.  It was unbelievable!  We rode the subway from Grand Central into Times Square and finished up our shopping.
 After we got back to the room, we packed up our stuff and got ready for departure.

Friday morning, we got up early once again.  A crew of us went down to the Today Show where we were second in line shortly after 5am.
 We got into the plaza and the camera scanned us a few times but I don't think we got much camera time!  Beccy and I went ahead and left early because we wanted to go find Penn Station and get some detailed directions about what we needed to do to make darn sure we made it home.  We had a little trouble with the subway, so we just walked the wholeeee way.  I bet we walked 3 miles that morning!  We came in contact with someone super rude who told us where we needed to go whenever we got to Penn Station.  After we got back to the room, we learned that mom had stuck it out by herself at the Today Show and got on TV pretty good!  She also won a $25 Kmart gift card as a reward for sticking it out!  Haha.  My mother is a crazy person on vacation.  She doesn't eat or sleep-- she just goes full speed ahead for the duration of the trip wherever she is.  You should see her at Disney.

We all met in the lobby of the hotel and the bell man helped us each get taxis.  The trip to Penn Station was much shorter and cheaper this time than when we arrived, which nobody could figure out.  We were at Penn Station super early. After we got our luggage checked in, everybody left their carry-ons and went to get food nearby/shop at Macy's for a few hours. I stayed with everybody's stuff for awhile and then mom and I went to get something to eat on the train ride home.  I think we all felt a little relief as we waited for our train to arrive to take us home.  I did one thing on the way home- sleep. I don't think I've ever been so happy to see my house.  It was a fun trip, but I felt like I had been gone for half a month! I really cannot say enough great things about this group!  They were a lot of fun and I would do it all over again!