Exploring Kansas

We had originally planned on staying at the same campground for our entire stay in Kansas, but ended up deciding against that. It turned out to be a good decision, because after a couple hours of driving across the state, we did not really want to go all the way back to where we had started the day.

Packing up camp.

Our first stop was Pawnee Rock. This was the half-way point on the Santa Fe Trail. It is basically a small mound out in the middle of flat farmland. They have built a small monument on the hilltop now, and you can see for miles and miles in every direction.

Pawnee Rock

Liam actually let me take his picture…

Once again, we appear to be all alone…

From Pawnee Rock, we continued down the highway for about 7 miles or so until we came to Fort Larned National Historic Site. We pulled into the parking lot at about 4:20, hoping that they were going to be open until 5pm. As it turns out, they close at 4:30. We ran to the Visitor’s Center to get a pin and a stamp in our passport, assuming that would be all we had time for. We were all prepared to simply admire the grounds on the walk back to the car, but we were invited to go along with the Ranger as he locked up for the night. We thought we would simply be able to peek inside the buildings as he locked up, but he ended up giving us a personal tour! We did not end up leaving the park until 5:45pm. They closed at 4:30pm. That was completely unexpected, and we couldn’t be more grateful!

Names etched into the walls.

Sleeping quarters. Two men to each bunk level, head to foot.

Special punishment for the really bad guy. They put Nathan in there…

From there, we drove to Dodge City. There was a campground we were going to check out, but it turns out Dodge City is a much larger town that we had anticipated. Not very comfortable tent camping in an unfamiliar city, we opted for a hotel for the night. We stayed dry during the night rain, and after a nice hot shower, we were all refreshed and ready to go explore Dodge City in the morning.

Spring Break!

Spring break is always such a great time for a road trip. It’s not too hot, and if you head the opposite direction from the rest of the crowd, you don’t bump into too many people. This year we decided to head to Kansas. We are trying to get the kids to all of the lower 48 states before they head out on their own, so now we are one state closer to that goal! Only 13 to go!

Nathan did not make it very far before falling asleep.

Our first stop was at Capulin Volcano National Monument. It was quite cold and very windy, but we practically had the place to ourselves, so there were no complaints there! What a neat, perfectly shaped volcano! I realize now that I did not take any pictures of the volcano itself, so I feel a little bit silly.

The view from the top was amazing!

We did not have too much trouble finding a place to park!

Mr. Amazing himself. 🙂

It was windy on top of the volcano!

Quiet country roads are my favorite, and we saw only a handful of cars on our way to Lake Scott State Park in Kansas, which was where we made camp the first night. It was great! We arrived later than planned and it was somewhat difficult finding a place to camp in the dark. Once we figured out which loop we needed to be in, though, we were able to get set up pretty quick. Again we found ourselves practically alone. Apparently not many people are up for camping in late March in Kansas. Who knew?

Bright sunshine not only makes it hard to look, but also makes it hard to stop laughing!

Beautiful sky on the Colorado/Kansas border.

This kid loves to photo bomb, and he dove right into my sky picture!

My camp pictures will not load with our blazing (not) fast internet, so I will have to leave that to your imagination! Just picture a pretty state park right on a lake, with no cars except ours. Join us tomorrow as we venture a little further into Kansas to see what we can find!

On Your Mark!

Last week was the first JV meet of the season. We have a relatively small JV team, so Varsity runners were invited to participate as well. Liam chose to run with the team, so I picked Catheryn up from school early and we drove to Santa Fe to watch the boys and the JV team run.

Nathan watching some teammates practice hurdles before the meet.

This was Nathan’s first meet ever, so he was a little nervous. He was running the 100m hurdles and the 400m, and since he had not had a whole lot of practice on the hurdles, he was most nervous about this race. He did a wonderful job, though. Afterwards, he said his whole goal was to make it without falling over a hurdle, which he did successfully. His goal now is to work on his arms.

Nathan’s first ever race in the 100m hurdles!

Such a great run. 🙂

The 400m was equally successful. He ran his best and did a great job.

Back stretch of the 400m.

Liam again ran the 400m and the 4x400m relay. His goal for the 400m is to get sub-60. He ran in 1:01, so he does not have far to go at all. They have an amazing 4×4 team that is always exciting to watch.

Back stretch of the 400m. Both of these runners are on the 4×4 relay team.

Liam also had time during this meet to participate in the high jump. This is an event he loves. At the final meet last year, he cleared 5’0″. At his first meet this year he cleared 5’6″! He was pretty excited about that and I think he is anxious to see how much he can improve over the season.

High jump buddies. These two are really evenly matched, and they love to compete!

A successful jump near the beginning of competition.

The next meet will be a Varsity/JV combined meet here at home the first weekend after spring break. It will be fun to watch all of the kids, not to mention my parents will be here, so they will get to see them as well!

Happy

When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life. ~John Lennon

 

Clear the Track!!

Track season is in full swing now. Yesterday was the first Varsity meet of the year and JV has their first meet next week. Liam and Catheryn are on the Varsity team, so I picked Nathan up from school early and we drove down to Rio Rancho to watch them run.

The first running event of the meet was the 800m, which is what Catheryn was running. She was nervous to be running with Varsity, but you never would have known it watching her run. She did so well and her kick was amazing! I think she was glad to be done early on since it was so cold. She joined me and Nathan up in the stands, and we huddled together while we watched the rest of the meet.

The start of the 800m. Catheryn is 5th from the left.

She’s got a great kick!

Liam runs the 200m, the 400m, the 4x400m relay, and does the high jump. The running events were started early yesterday due to cold temps and high winds, so several of the boys, Liam included, were not able to participate in the high jump. His first race was the 400m, followed shortly by the 200m, which was immediately followed by the 4x400m relay. He raced really hard and did amazing. He was not completely satisfied with his performance, but that is his competitive nature. He is always striving to be better.

The start of the 400m.

The last curve of the 400m. Liam finished 2nd.

Liam’s final stretch of the 4×4.

By the time the meet was over, we were all frozen, hungry, and tired. The ‘frozen’ and ‘hungry’ were easy to take care of: blasting heat and a super-unhealthy stop at the Taco Bell drive-thru. The ‘tired’ though, wasn’t quite as easy… we still had a two-hour drive home. We made it home just in time for the snow to start falling.

I am so proud of my kids and love watching them run. Stay tuned next week and I will let you know how Nathan does at his first meet. He is running the 400m and the 100m hurdles. I can’t wait!

Five Events for Five Decades

As you already know, Rob will be turning 50 (!!!!!) this summer. I have really been wanting to do something crazy, or at least out of the ordinary for us, so I started looking up running events. One event didn’t seem like quite enough to mark such a momentous birthday, but 50 was a few too many, so we decided on one event for each decade of Rob’s life. I found five events, all slightly different, and all close to home. Rob has been wanting to get into better shape, so he has agreed to participate in these events with me.

We are going to kick off our Five Events for Five Decades at the Albuquerque Half Marathon. Of course the title is a little misleading because while the half marathon is the main run of the day, they also have smaller runs. Since it will be our first run of the year, we decided to run the 10k together while the kids are all going to run the 5k. We will be running this event in mid-April.

Our original plan was to participate in the Jemez Mountain Trail Runs in May, but the shortest distance there is 15 miles. Rob has never run a half marathon, so this distance seemed a little too much too fast. And since we do not need any injuries or craziness, we decided to skip that run for this year and add it to the calendar next year.

Next up is the Los Alamos Triathlon in July. This is a sprint distance tri with the swimming taking place in the local pool. It is a good triathlon to start with since it is both short, and there is no open-water swimming involved. Since I already have Rob talked into participating in an Ironman 70.3 (Weee!) with me next year, this will be a good starter race to see how we like it.

Come August we are heading up to run the Red River High Mountain Half Marathon. In this event we will actually be running the half marathon while the kids are planning on doing the 5k again. Liam has expressed interest in running the half with us, but we will have to see how he feels when the time comes to register. This will be Rob’s first half marathon, and I am really excited for him! The course looks amazing, so it should be a great experience!

In September we have the Santa Fe Thunder Half Marathon. I have not asked the kids about this one yet, but I think they will probably be up for running another 5k. There is at least one other person from the park who will be running this one as well, perhaps more, so it will be a small group event. Should be a fun run!

To wrap up our Five Events for Five Decades, we are going to tackle the Duke City Marathon in October. I think after a year of training and running smaller events, this will be a great place for Rob’s first marathon. Plus, according to their website, it is ranked as one of the top 25 marathons in the world. Not to mention it is a Boston Qualifier, so who knows, we just may get lucky in our old age!

The only run we are currently registered for is the 10k in April, so of course everything is subject to change. This is our plan for the year, though and we will do our best to see it through. I’m thinking we will end this year in pretty good shape! Then it will be time to get ready for Boulder 70.3!!

Changing Decades

Birthdays are always fun, but I think perhaps milestone birthdays are the best. After all the youth milestones, it is the decade changes that get our attention. As many of you may already know, Rob is having just such a birthday this year. Come August, he will be saying hello to the big 5-0.

The puzzle board

I usually try to make the milestone birthdays stand out just a little bit from the rest. Whether the gifts are a little more special, or we go somewhere new, or the cake is just a little bit bigger, making them different is always the plan. This year I felt like we needed to do something really special for Rob since he is a full half century old!

He’s figuring it out!

I went through many ideas in my head and the one I had originally decided on was quickly becoming unrealistic. As soon as I realized that, another idea popped into my head. Rob’s best friend lives up in Alaska, and they have not seen each other since our wedding almost 17 years ago. That is a long time! When Rob and his buddy both lived up in Alaska, they spent a lot of time fishing together. So I thought it would be fun to send Rob to Alaska for a week to hang out with his best friend. I contacted his friend to arrange the best dates for salmon fishing and made sure he was on board. He was, of course, and has it all planned out that they will spend the week at his cabin. Should be a fun man week!

Impatient kids looking on…

Once I purchased the tickets, I had to decide how to give them to Rob. That was actually the hardest part! The kids had introduced Rob to a game where you have to unscramble letters to make words that match pictures. I now find him playing it almost every night. Catheryn thought it would be fun to make a word board just like in the game. That was a great idea, so she and I spent the morning putting together a word puzzle.

Almost finished!

Since Rob will be going to Alaska in July (better salmon fishing apparently…) we decided to give him his gift now so that he has time to get the time off from work as well as plan for the actual trip. The kids and I were excited to give him his gift, so we decided to do it over his lunch break. Unfortunately we picked a day when he was very busy, so he did not really have the luxury of taking his time. I realize now that we should have just waited until after work, but it is a little too late for that now.

Prize time!

He was pretty quick at solving the word puzzles, and I think he was a little surprised at the ‘prize’ at the end. Normally you get tokens for finishing a level, not plane tickets. I am so excited for Rob to be able to go back to Alaska, I just wish I could have managed a little more. After all, it is not every year you turn 50!

He liked the comic I put with his tickets. 🙂

(I apologize for the terrible pics!)