Sunday, December 29, 2013

Eric and Tanya, snowmobile fail and church

Eric and Tanya joined us in Wallace the day after Christmas. We went to City Limits Pub, skiing at Lookout Pass, watched movies, ate big meals at home, watched more movies, and went on a failed snowmobile excursion.

Eric and Tanya are all bundled up and ready to play

One of the snowmobiles stopped working last time we tried to take them out. Tom thought he had fixed it but it was apparently in need of more repair because this time, it didn't even go three feet. We really wanted Tanya to be able to take some pretty pictures so Tom took her up to Lower Glidden Lake on the one snowmobile that was working. Meanwhile, Eric and I had nothing to do but wait for them.

Eric, waiting patiently for Tanya's return

I enjoyed the pretty scenery. 

When Tom and Tanya returned, Eric took the one working snowmobile for a spin. Then he and Tanya went off together for a while. I'm glad they were able to enjoy the ride.

We were a little worried about how we'd get the broken snowmobile back onto the trailer. Tom managed to get enough power to ALMOST make it on.

So far so good
Almost on
Alas, it wasn't meant to be.  The snowmobile refused to go any further and got stuck mid-way up the ramp.  We'd have to wait for Eric to return so we could muscle it to its place.

We had such a good time with Eric and Tanya. They headed back to Sammamish this morning and they'll go back to Florida on Wednesday. On January 31st, however, they'll move back to Washington for good. I'm sure they'll miss the warm Florida weather but I'll be so happy to have them home.

We attended the Wallace Branch today. I'm surprised they don't give us a calling, we're there so often. I enjoy each time we attend this small Branch and we feel so welcome whenever we visit. 

Wallace Branch chapel in Silverton, Idaho
Only two more days of vacation before we have to head back to reality. I'm not at all ready to leave.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Christmas Day Scramble

We've had a lot of fun on our vacation in Wallace. On Monday, Tom saw the missionaries at the library and invited them over for dinner. One of them is from Las Vegas and the other was from Eagle Mountain, Utah. I made tacos and one of the elders scarfed his down faster than Tom. I've never seen anyone eat so fast in my life.

Happy to have just eaten a home-cooked meal.

We had big plans for Tuesday. We hitched the snowmobiles to the back of the car and drove to Dobson Pass. We wrangled the snowmobiles off the trailer and sped away for a fun day of recreation. After only about 200 yards, Tom's snowmobile stopped working. It just stopped. Tom replaced the sparkplugs and fidgeted around with a bunch of other stuff but to no avail. We strapped his snowmobile to mine and dragged it back to the trailer. It was difficult and tricky to get it back on the trailer. We are extremely sad that our snowmobile days are over for now. I hope we can get it fixed ASAP.

Getting ready to head up. Two minutes later, it was over.

We drove home, feeling totally dejected. Plan B for the day was to hike up the North hill and try to get a good view of Wallace. It was a short but very steep hike.

Our house is the red one with the green roof. Center, 1/4 way up. Cute, no?

This was Christmas Eve so, once we got home, we chillaxed and watched a movie. I missed my kids more than words can even say.

Today, Christmas Day, was great. I made pumpkin pancakes and bacon, we opened our presents and then we decided to do another hike. I call it a "scramble" though, because most of the time we weren't following any trail--just going STRAIGHT UP the hillside. There's a section of an abandoned logging road that we can see from our front porch that I've always wanted to see. I figured the view of Wallace from this vantage point must be spectacular. Tom has tried many times to reach it by motorcycle but he's never made it.

There's a little bit of snow on the ground so we followed some tracks that a man and his dog must have made as late as yesterday. Possibly even this morning. We made it to our destination but it was HARD. The entire time, I was worried about how we were going to make it back down. Parts of the hike were so steep I felt like I was climbing a ladder straight up! It was very tricky to keep from sliding back down, down, down. We eventually made it to the logging road. And got this view of our fair city.

This is the most sun Wallace gets in the winter because of the south hill.
We decided NOT to try to go back the way we came so we followed a maze of logging tracks for a while. Eventually, we scrambled to another trail that led down a gulch. We found some more tracks, this time it was two people and a dog. We were just about to the South Fork of the Coeur d'Alene river when the trail stopped abruptly. We found these strange houses(?) close to the bottom.

This dugout was creeeeepy!

We were so close to Wallace at this point but had to climb up and around another hill until we got to a place where we could get off the mountain. This part of the hike had some parts that were more challenging than anything I've ever encountered. Tom tried to take pictures, but they didn't work out. Just try to imagine a plank of wood over a deep crevasse with a wire to hold onto while sliding on your bum across the plank. That was the only way across.

It was a great Christmas. I missed Paige, Chris, and the kids in Germany, I missed Allison and Tate in Canada, and I missed Eric and Tanya in Sammamish. Thank goodness Eric and Tanya will be visiting us tomorrow! We can't wait! More adventures ahead!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Allison Celestia Taylor Litchfield Graduates

We've been looking forward to Christmas vacation for so long and for so many reasons. The number one reason was so we could go to Allison's graduation from Brigham Young University-Idaho in Rexburg. We've also been looking forward to spending some time in Wallace.

On our way to Wallace, we stopped at Lowe's in Coeur d'Alene to buy a new fridge because our old fridge stopped working last time we were there. We measured the space under the cabinets in the kitchen where the fridge was supposed to go and we measured the old fridge a million times. We thought we knew exactly what size to get. We knew we'd need to get a smaller than average sized fridge. So, along with two Ski-Do's, and Daniel's motorcycle, we strapped our new fridge onto the trailer. We must have looked pretty funny to the other drivers on the road.

Our neighbor, Elmer, helped us move the fridge into the house. We slid it into place but. . . . it was about 1/2" too tall to fit under the cabinets. What to do? Good thing Tom's so handy. He always asks, "What do normal people do?" Well, Tom Taylor would put the fridge on its side and cut out the rollers and anything else that makes the fridge one fraction of an inch taller.

This is what Abby Normal people would do


We breathed a huge sigh of relief when it barely slid into place.

We left Gypsy in Wallace for our wonderful neighbors, Corki and Elmer, to take care of her. We knew she would be in good hands. Early Thursday morning we were off to Rexburg. This is what I saw out my window for most of the 6 hour drive.

Beautiful countryside

As soon as we arrived in Rexburg, we went to work filling the Budget rental van with Tate and Allison's belongings. Tom and Tate and Dylan (Tate's sister's husband) took the furniture apart and loaded big boxes while Allison and I packed and packed and cleaned and cleaned.

Later that night, we checked into our hotel (a really yucky one), and then drove to Idaho Falls for dinner at a really yummy place called The Snake Bite. I highly recommend it. Next time you're in Idaho Falls.

Friday morning, we invited Allie and Tate to our hotel for breakfast and then headed back to their apartment for more cleaning and packing. We took a lunch break and invited Tate's sister, Robyn, and her husband, Dylan, to go to the famous "Taco Truck" with us. I've heard so much about this fine eating establishment that I was really excited to go. I was not disappointed.

Robyn and Dylan
Inside the taco truck. It was surprisingly warm inside.

After lunch we went back to the apartment and crashed for just a few minutes. After our nap, Tom and I drove to Rexburg Motorsports, a huge ATV, motorcycle and snowmobile showroom. I wanted one of everything. Too bad we don't need any more toys.

Nap time

Eventually, the big truck was full of Allison and Tate's lives. They had no room to spare. I don't think they could have been able to wedge a toothpick into that truck.

Tate's expression.  Ha!

Allison's graduation ceremonies started at 6:00 in the evening. We wondered over and over why they would decide to have graduation so late. I concluded that the University must have some kind of deal with the local hotels because most of the graduates had to house parents in a hotel. Because Rexburg is in the middle of absolutely nowhere, I'd be willing to bet that 85% of the people at the ceremonies were planning on spending the night. Including us.

It's official!


After Commencement, we dashed to MacDonald's for a quick bite in the car and rushed back to her College graduation ceremonies. It was short and sweet.

I'm probably the only person in the entire world who actually loves graduations. I look around at all of the young people in their caps and gowns and I think about all the hard work they did to make it to this point in their lives. I'm so proud of Allison for sticking with it. I'm so happy that she met Tate while she was in Rexburg and that they've been able to start a wonderful life together. They have an amazing future ahead of them, starting with a trip to China to teach English at a major University beginning in February.

How many times can I say how proud I am?

The graduate

Tate and Allie decided to start their long drive to Henderson immediately after the ceremonies. Tom and I decided to try to make it to Butte. A snowstorm blew in just as we were attending graduation and the snow was accumulating very quickly.

We said goodbye to Tate and Allie and drove out into the blizzard. Tom is an amazing driver and I was only a little scared. There were NO other cars, no other people who were crazy enough to drive through the storm. We had intended to stop at a hotel in Butte but decided to keep going to Deer Lodge. Once at Deer Lodge, we decided to keep on driving to Wallace. It snowed most of the way and the going was slow, but we pulled into Wallace at about 4:30 in the morning, exhausted but so happy that we were home.

We heard from Allison along the way. They eventually made it to Henderson at around 9:00 in the morning, having driven the entire night. I'm sure they're exhausted, but excited to start their Christmas vacation.

It was a wonderful trip to Rexburg--probably our last trip there, unless some grandchildren decide to attend BYU-Idaho. Which would make me very happy.

One last time: I'm so proud of Allison!  

Monday, December 9, 2013

Weekend at the cabin

It was the perfect weekend for going to Lake Wenatchee. Tom, Gypsy and I left Redmond at around 4:30 pm and drove to the cabin. We stopped at Grocery Outlet and tried really hard to find $20 worth of groceries so we could use the $5 coupon we got in the mail. We bought all sorts of junk like ice cream, chips, candy, cereal, milk, and a little tiny bit of fruit so we wouldn't feel so bad about all the junk. But when we got to the register, it turned out that the coupon was only good for the Lynnwood Grocery Outlet. I don't even know where Lynwood is. So we ended up getting a bunch of stuff we didn't even need. Oh well. Tom tied the ice cream to the back of the Jeep because it was FREEZING outside. No way it would melt on the way.

The cabin was C.O.L.D.  We turned on every heater and bundled up to watch The Bletchley Circle on Netflix.  When I took Gypsy outside for her last peedle of the night, I looked up to completely clear skies and more stars than I've seen in a lifetime.  It was so beautiful.  No pics, but you'll have to take my word for it.

Saturday was fun.  We hiked with Gypsy to the top of the property.  One thing about Gypsy is that she absolutely LOVES going to the cabin.  It's the only place she gets to run around without her leash, and boy, does she ever take advantage of her freedom. She runs and runs and runs. Just look at the excitement in her face.  We always worry that she'll chase a deer or worse, a coyote, but we've been lucky so far.

In the afternoon, we went on a "tio" (not sure where this word came from, but to us, it means "adventure"). Tom knows the names of all the places we went, but I don't pay a lot of attention to the names.  Alls I know is, we saw a lot of really pretty things.

We ran across this empty bulletin board with major bear scratches on it.  Why did the bear do this?  I imagine it felt like stretching its back and stood up against this bulletin board.  Then, it just kind of slid its paws down.  Anyway, it left some serious scars.

We had such a nice time at the cabin. We ALWAYS do. But now, it's back to reality. . . . which isn't so bad, either.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

We went to Florida for Thanksgiving

When Eric and Tanya announced they were moving to the Miami area for six months, we immediately invited ourselves to visit them for Thanksgiving. Allison and Tate went to Las Vegas and Paige and Chris are in Germany. So, it seemed natural for us to simply fly to Aventura, Florida to be with Eric and Tayna. We were only there for three full days and one of them was Thanksgiving so we had to pack in a lot of adventure into just two days.

On Tuesday, we went to the Florida Everglades to Shark Valley, a park run by the Department of Interior. I have no idea why they call it Shark Valley because it wasn't even near the ocean and the main attraction, as you will see, are the plentiful alligators that call Shark Valley their home. We rented bikes and rode along a 15 mile loop trail.

We saw about 5 or 6 of these beauties. We were told to not get closer than 15 feet away. Since I didn't bring my measuring tape, I'm sure we ended up getting much closer than that. It was just a little bit scary but oh, so fun to see these crazy creatures up close and personal.

At the half way point on the trail, we climbed up the observation tower and got a great view of the Everglades.

After riding the 15 mile loop, we were hot, sweaty, tired, and hungry. So we drove to Miami Beach to one of Eric and Tanya's favorite hamburger places, Shake Shack.  

We strolled around South Beach and I loved looking at all of the amazing Art Deco architecture. I've never seen so many beautiful people in one place. I felt like we were in another country altogether. Eric drove us all the way up Collins Avenue where we saw amazing old and new high-rise apartments and hotels. It was fascinating!

On Wednesday, we decided to drive up to Cape Canaveral and visit the Kennedy Space Center. Google Maps said it was a 3 hour drive. We didn't think much about that but, as we came to realize, three hours is a LONG time to drive. Tanya was the official music selector and we had a nice time listening to great music along the way.

Tom was hesitant about going to KSC because he's been there several times and he doesn't like repeating things. But we found a tour called "Then and Now" that took us to some of the places where some of the first rocket launches took place. Miraculously, he really enjoyed our three hour tour and he actually learned a thing or two. The rest of us learned much more.

We ended up staying at the Kennedy Space Center until it closed at 5:00. Then, we made the 3 hour trek back to Aventura, stopping at Five Guys Burgers on the way. We got back to Eric and Tanya's apartment feeling very tired but happy that we'd had a good day. We watched Hunger Games and I fell asleep before it was over.

On Thursday morning, Eric drove me and Tom to a beach and dropped us off. We strolled along the beach for a while and enjoyed perfectly blue skies and comfortable temperatures. While we were walking along, I got a video phone call from Paige. I'm still amazed that modern technology can let me see and talk to my daughter and grandkids in Germany--while strolling along the beach. Even though I cried once we hung up because I miss them so much, I still feel very lucky and very thankful that I was able to see my grandbabies and talk to Paige.

It took all morning and half of the afternoon to make our Thanksgiving dinner and it took MAYBE seven minutes to eat it. After dinner, we walked to a park and played frisbee. Thursday night, we went to the Aventura Mall and saw Disney's Frozen (I gave it an A-).

We woke up bright and early on Friday morning and Eric and Tanya drove us to the Fort Lauderdale airport.  We flew from Fort Lauderdale to Houston, from Houston to Las Vegas, and from Las Vegas to Seattle. The only two perks were flying over the Grand Canyon and being in the same city as Allison and Tate--even if we didn't get off the plane.

It was a really fun but short trip. I really needed a change of scenery and this totally did the trick. Now, the Christmas holiday is officially upon us and I'm looking forward to what's to come next.  I might even blog about it!