Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Road Trippin' Across the USA

Every two years, the John and Emily Shenk Family has a reunion over the summer. This year, it was being hosted by Dan and Naomi Shenk in Harrisonburg, Virginia. We love going to these reunions and look forward to them, however, flying all three of us across country in the summer can get a little pricey for just a weekend trip. This year, we decided to spend about the same amount and turn it into a 12-day road trip across the USA with our travel trailer and trusty canine, Leo, visiting friends and family along the way. For us, this trip was about catching up with people, not sightseeing, so if you prefer the posts with just scenic pictures, this is not the one for you. 
Let's roll!
We made our first stop in Golden, Colorado to visit Aunt Charlotte and Uncle Jim. Our visit with them was way too short this time around, but we are always happy to see them.
Happy to be heading out on vacation together
Aunt Charlotte and her "Jamers"
We headed across I-70 on our way to Louisville, Kentucky to catch up with longtime family friends, Pastor Ken, Natalie, and Bethany Boehm. They were so lovely and welcoming to us, and it was wonderful for me to introduce Chris and James to a family who had been such an important part of my life growing up.
Kansas is flat and somewhat boring but the clouds are beautiful!
On the wrong side of the highway for a better shot, but we take
what we can get. It's still the Gateway Arch!
Pastor Ken introduces James to his hammock, which James thinks is a swing.
James and Bethany B. hanging out in the game room
Sunset on the Ohio River
Silliness on the playground
Our friends, Ken and Natalie Boehm. Love you guys!
Enjoying a last-minute chat before we left. James said,
"Let's talk." Pastor Ken asked him what he wanted to talk
about and James replied, "How about animals?" So, they
talked about animals. I love this moment.
After enjoying a couple days in Louisville, we headed south to Nashville for a day and managed to catch up with two different friends. We had a great lunch with the Lang Family, where James and Kendyl played together so cutely. Too bad we didn't get any pictures of the adults or the equally cute Addison.
Adorable faces
Then, we had a fun dinner with the Garrett Family and James had a blast teaching Channing how to pull the leaves off the trees. We're still working on being a good influence to younger kids. It was so nice to catch up with Lacey after almost 17 years and introduce husbands and kids. Facebook definitely has its advantages. I'm so grateful to be back in touch. 
"You put us next to this very leafy tree, it's not our fault!"
Friends from high school, so great to reunite.
Our next destination was just outside of Atlanta in Cumming, Georgia, where my godparents live. We were so looking forward to spending a few days just enjoying their company and letting James get to know them. He was very young the last time we were there and we were hoping this time would make more of an impression. As James tends to do, he had them wrapped around his finger in no time. 
James convinced Mr. Dick to get down on the floor and play cars with him.
Snuggling with Ms. Marty
Getting a great group picture before we left
After leaving Georgia, we made one last stop before we hit the reunion. Another high school friend, Sofi, lives in Greenville, South Carolina, and we had a wonderful lunch with her in downtown Greenville. 
Here's our rig at a rest stop in SC. Not quite as large as the semi next to us.
Enjoying the beautiful, tall trees in South Carolina
Sofi and I after a delicious lunch in lovely Greenville
Finally, we were on our way to Virginia and the Shenk Family Reunion. The official festivities didn't start until Friday night, with the main event on Saturday, so we took advantage of our location and arranged a tour of the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. for Friday. It was amazing! The architecture is stunning and the tour was so informative regarding the creation of the library itself and all of the beautiful craftsmanship found on the inside. There is meaning to be found in each piece of art, mosaic tile work, and marble. I could have stayed there all day just wandering around. We were also able to see (but not touch) actual books from Thomas Jefferson's personal library. My head nearly exploded with excitement and historical adoration. Despite that awesomeness, it was not the most interesting of places for a 5-year old, so we didn't spend more than a couple hours there. I am thrilled to have seen it, though, and look forward to a return visit. I highly recommend it to everyone.
He's very self-entertaining in the car
James and I outside the Library of Congress
This is my "can't believe I'm actually here" face
Chris and James checking out the sculptures
The amazingly beautiful "Reading Room"
The oculus in the Reading Room. Stunning.
The view from the LOC isn't bad either
The Shenk Family Reunion was an all-day outside affair and SO FUN! The kids had tons of room to run around and play and so did Leo. I'm not sure who enjoyed it more! We always enjoy catching up with the family members we don't see very often and it's great to watch the cousins reconnect and have a great time playing together.
You can't tell how steep the hill is from this angle but James loved going down
in the wagon and just kept doing it over and over again.
Leo loved all the attention from the kids, especially playing ball with Jackson
Chris and his brother, Matt
These were for some kind of game, but James just
kept stacking them and hiding inside them.
Then he rolled down the hill inside one.
One of the many fun faces I get when I try to take
his picture these days.
James and his Papa happened to match. So cute!
My handsome hubby playing volleyball
Uncle Matt shows James how to be ready for the
volleyball
Aunt Irma takes James and Peyton for a spin in the wagon
Richard and Cindy with all their grandchildren
Me and my sweet boy. Love him!!
The beautiful view from the reunion on the morning we left. Thanks again,
Uncle Dan and Aunt Naomi. We had a wonderful time!
After enjoying many great stops along the way and a wonderful reunion with our Shenk Family, it was time to head back home to Utah. 
A rare spotting of a sleeping James in the car
Kansas is STILL flat but the clouds are still beautiful
Enjoying the amazing peek at some storms in eastern Colorado
One last stop at Aunt Charlotte's before we got home. She's game for anything.
After twelve days, we were back in Utah!
Now, that's a road trip!!!
James had to find and turn over to "red" all the states we
passed through on our journey. The total was thirteen plus
Washington D.C. 
What a wonderful adventure!


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Snippets of James

After we returned from our Florida trip, we had just a few weeks of down time before gearing up for the big road trip across America. (Stay tuned for that post.) Here are some of the fun bits that happened, which is mostly just an excuse for cute pictures of James!
James finished his second year of preschool and he is a
fantastic reader! Thanks, Learning Dynamics!
Good times were had on a tiny trampoline.
We spent a few days up at Snowbird and Gracie came to
visit. They are too cute together!
Enjoyed some relaxing time with his LeapPad.
James and Leo played tug-of-war. Leo wins every time.
We enjoyed a brief visit from Uncle Jerry, where James taught him how to
play Legos. It's never too late to learn!