Saturday, November 16, 2013

Poofy Laila Cheeks!

Laila just turned three months old last week and we got to have a little visit over the weekend.  How adorable are those poofy cheeks, pudgy legs and big blue eyes - not to mention her cutie hat!?  She's starting to coo and smile a lot and beginning to notice the things around her and be aware of her hands and other things.  It's amazing how fast they grow at this age.  I wasn't around Portia until she was close to three years old so all of this is new to me!  I got a lesson in strapping an infant into a car seat while she was here as well - I think it's the only time I've heard her really get upset!  Christmas should be really fun this year - I can't wait for the rest of my extended family to meet her!  <3

Monday, November 11, 2013

Red River Gorge

Click here for all trip photos.

This past weekend we made a trip to the Red River Gorge area in Stanton, Kentucky for our friend Mr. Charlie's 40th birthday.  This is the second time we've been to the Gorge in November ( we went for Mr. Charlie's birthday in 2010 also ) and, in the end result,  it did not disappoint.  We stayed at a very nice cabin called Lakewood. The cabin itself was gorgeous, as were the surroundings with all the woods and creek running through the bottom of the property.

The weekend started off with picking up Christina and Charlie at their house and then Beth from her house.  We had a great, slap happy time on the way to the cabin, laughing all the way.  There is never a dull moment with this group, ever!  After many "just around this curve" comments, much joking and laughing, we pulled off the exit and had a quick lunch at Hardee's before going to the local tiny Kroger to get groceries for the weekend.

After lunch and shopping we headed up to the cabin site.  At the head of the road we stopped in to check in and get the keys to the cabin.  There is a whole story to the ten minutes we were there, but all I will say is that there were gassy fumes in the truck cab and step issues at the check in house!  The perfect start to our exciting weekend.

Once we got to the cabin, the only complaint was that the rental site touted the good cell phone service due to a cell phone booster and WiFi.  We did have so-so WiFi - but the cell phone reception was non-existent.  We realize that most people go to these places to "get away from it all", and while we would love to do this, we just can't due to our jobs.  Thus it was very disappointing for our friends to rent this place just for us because it was the only one with cell coverage and WiFi, only to get there and it have zero cell coverage and very spotty WiFi.  To make matter worse, firewood was purchased for a steep price of $20 to be delivered to the cabin.  As the wood was being delivered we were informed that the cell phone booster did not work at all and anyone with Verizon would not get any type of signal (though our AT&T people didn't get a signal either).  On top of that, all of the firewood that was brought in (all 10 pieces of it - for $20 mind you) was wet and would not burn.  Not turning out to be such a good deal, eh?
However, it all worked out in the end.  Jason was able to get an app on his phone that would allow a phone call to get through if there was an emergency.  The fire was a bust that evening due to wet wood, but at least the hot tub was in good working order.  So after a yummy steak and potato dinner the guys did their own thing and the girls went to hang in the hot tub for some good, old fashion girl talk.

The next morning we had a yummy breakfast of bacon, eggs and biscuits while we waited for Lydia and Ben. to arrive.  We met them up at Kroger and went directly to a hiking trail that led to Hidden Arch.  It was a very nice two mile hike and was beautiful!  On the way back to the cabin we took a short detour to drive through a natural rock tunnel.  It was a tight squeeze for Big Nasty, the F-350, but by pulling in the side mirrors we made it through.

After that we headed back to the cabin where lasagna was prepared for that night's dinner.  Lydia and Ben went in search of dry firewood and came back with a mother-load of great wood for $10.00...and it was dry and burnable!  So we spent the evening on the porch burning our dry wood in the outdoor fireplace.  It was a pretty calm evening - though we did have to make a human ladder at one point to turn off the outdoor ceiling fans since it was quite cold and no light switch seemed to work the fan.  At the end of the night we sang happy birthday to Mr. Charlie, let him blow out his cheesecake candles and one by one drifted off to bed.

It was a fantastic, fun weekend that I will always remember.  And, as always, I got lots of photos. Next year we will replicate the trip, but instead of a cabin rental we will be taking our travel trailers!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Starve Hollow - Vallonia, IN

Click here for all trip photos.

This weekend we had our maiden voyage out in the new Jayco Eagle camper with the three dogs at Starve Hollow State Recreation Area in Vallonia, Indiana just outside of Seymour.  The park was absolutely beautiful with all the trees in full fall color. We were not on the lake, but we were within a five minute walk to the water's edge.

The dogs all did very well, much better than we had anticipated, especially since they were all restricted to their own screw in the ground lead.  We intended to have an X-pen dog run area set up for them, but were not able to acquire the necessary parts to do so for the first trip.  After their initial excitement dwindled down they got tangled in each other's leads less and less.  They did really, really well, much better than we thought they would.

Since this was our first trip out in the new camper it was also a learning experience for us.  Our last camper didn't have holding tanks or a slide so we had to figure out all the workings of those functions - which makes camping all that much better, by the way.  It was very nice not having to run up to the shower house every time we needed to use the restroom or take a shower.  Having the comforts of home on the road is a giant perk!

The only complaint about the park that we had was that there was supposed to be a nice hiking trail.  We saddled up all the dogs and went out to go hike.  However, after following all the signs pointing to the "hiking trail" we ended up in the cabin rental area of the park with no hiking trail in sight.  So we doubled back and headed home after much searching.

The only other issue we ran into was lack of wifi and cell coverage.  According to Verizon's map, we should have had a good 3G connection, however it was very spotty. Due to Jason's line of work, we generally can't go anywhere without a good signal in case something comes up.  We will be looking into a booster for upcoming trips.

Since it is November and pretty chilly out, the park was very sparse.  The full hookup area where we were probably only had 10 other campers around, where normally 50 sites are available.  The waterfront, electric only sites were pretty full though.  After walking through the waterfront area, I can see where campers would make the sacrifice to give up full hook-ups for electric only sites for the waterfront views.

I walked down to the beach area and can easily see why this place would make an awesome summer campground. There was a very nice sand beach area along the lake shore with sand volleyball courts, life guard stations and lake boundaries where the swimming area dropped off.

I would love to visit here again.  We were at site 239, which was on the end of the road and looked into the woods.  I particularly chose this spot for the dog's first outing so that they were not near a lot of distractions.  I would totally pick this spot again, no matter what time of year, due to the privacy and the shade it provides.  Definitely a place on the list to come back to!

All photos of our trip can be found here!