Tag Archives: Memories

Mondays are for Memories – April 2011

Because we’re just beginning our 2015 SOWER Texas Roundup (aka reunion) and because yesterday was our son Josiah’s 34th birthday, I thought I share a post from our family vacation just about four years ago (and four babies ago!) when we celebrated Josiah’s 30th birthday in Gatlinburg, TN.

April 3, 2011 A Family Vacation
It was a long time coming. Although we’ve gotten together at holidays over the years, we haven’t really been able to pull off an official “Family Vacation” since Ellie was 2. And that was 6 years ago. Two more babies and a new DIL later, we were all gathered at a big old log cabin in Gatlinburg, TN for a long overdue gathering. Even though the weather was quite uncooperative (it rained 4 out of the six days we were there) and by the end of the week a couple of us were struggling with bad colds, I still think it was a great success and filled us up with memories!
Here a just a couple of the highlights –
On the first sunny day, we trekked over to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park where we enjoyed the drive out to Cades Cove. The girls had never been to a National Park and really thought we were going to a big playground (sorry, kids!), but I think they enjoyed the day!
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One of the highlights of the day was the special “guest appearance” of my niece Christiana –
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What a treat that she could join us (from Chattanooga) for the day! And how fortunate that it was a sunny day!
More Great Smoky Mountain National Park pictures here if you’re interested.

Between showers one day we checked out a local pottery
and Toby and Ellie tried their hand at some mountain music!
There is a ton of “touristy” stuff to do in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area, and we chose Wonderworks as our big splurge of the week.
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There were lots of activities to do, but I think the most fun was watching Hayley (age 6) climb the rock wall. It was a first for her, and she never hesitated for a moment.
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She also went on the High Ropes Adventure with her Mom, Lara and Josiah.
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That Hayley is certainly one brave 6 year old!
Everyone had a good time –
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Ellie practicing her motorcross skills
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Maddie taking on (and winning mostly) the air hockey challenge!
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The big boys playing “Mind Ball” – to see who could think less the longest. It was a long match (really, about 5 minutes!) but Josiah finally won. Is that a good thing?
And Noah was a champ the whole time – just watching all of the activities!
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(You can see more Wonderworks photos HERE if you’d like to!)
But let’s face it – most of our time was spent at “Mountain Dreams” – our home away from home for the week.
Denali Gatlinburg
That’s Denali, our “guard” Great Pyrenees. She’s Lara’s dog, and she was wonderful with the kids and all of our inside time. Like when we celebrated Josiah’s 30th birthday –
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the girls made sure she was part of the excitement!
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Yes, it was great having Denali a part of the family vacation!
Then there was the day of the Jacuzzi and the bubble explosion –

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Yep, Dad was in charge of that bubble extravaganza! (Just one more squirt, Dad, please?)
And even though it was cold and rainy most days, that didn’t stop us from using the hot tub on the deck!
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You can find some more random shots of our “Fun at the Cabin” time here, and if you’d like to see the whole “Family Vacation” set, you can check it out here.

Ok, so I guess this was a little more than the “highlights”, but I tried to keep it short(ish), honest. The week had it’s ups and downs, but then with 11 people living in one house (with zero soundproofing!), I guess that’s to be expected. But all in all, it was a grand week, full of hugs and kisses, new adventures, and deepening relationships. I sure do love these guys –
Conrad Family April 2011
Love. These. Guys.
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Mondays are for Memories – April, 2010

This post, from April 27, 2010, is from our “Rock Tour” of the Grand Circle (Grand Canyon, Arches, Bryce, Zion, etc.). We were just talking about our Arizona/Utah travels with some friends who are hoping to visit the area this summer with their grandson and I was reminded of the beautiful time we had there. It is a little picture heavy, so be prepared to do some scrolling!

We set out with just the truck to explore the Navajo National Monument in NW Arizona. This monument preserves three intact cliff dwellings – although we only hiked out to one. And really, we didn’t actually hike to the dwellings. We hiked to the view of the dwellings. Apparently they only have guided tours to the actual ruins on the weekends, and when we saw where they were, we realized that we probably wouldn’t have taken that hike anyway. (Again, it’s the bad knees going down and the asthma (and general stamina) coming back up. We just know our limits.) But the 1 mile hike to the overlook was very lovely, and the view of the dwellings excellent (even though they looked like doll houses!)
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See that alcove in the rocks? Where all the shade is?
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This little community was built into that alcove they estimate about 800 years ago. Amazing! And what’s more amazing, they estimate that it was only lived in for about a generation. Like 30-40 years. My goodness, what a lot of work for such a short time. And I wonder why they moved on?
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This is a view of the entire valley from the pathway to the viewing point. At least they had a room with a view!

After we returned to fetch Lizzie we set out “for real”, heading north into Utah. But first, we stopped at the magnificient Monument Valley. This isn’t a National Park, but a Navajo Tribal Park – a first for us. It was actually very similar to a National Park – visitor center, scenic road, gift shop, and tours, but it was different in that there are Native Americans that actually live within the park, and at many of the pull-outs there were vendors selling Navajo jewelry and art.
I’m so glad we did this park – it was spectacular!
Even the drive there was beautiful –
But once inside the park – my, oh, my…
Along with the jewelry/art vendors there were also a couple of spots where you could hire a guide to see the monuments on horseback. Or, you could just have your picture taken on a horse.
More scenery….
And a final panorama –
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(Sorry if that seemed like a lot of pictures – but if you had seen how many I actually took, you’d be proud of me for whittling them down to these!)

The rest of the day was spent on the road. But what a beautiful road that was!
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(catch the 6% grade sign? Keep your eye on those signs!)
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Oh, yeah, at the bottom of that last 10% hill – was this curve –
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But we made it – down those hills, and back up some others!
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But ah, the beauty along the way!
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That little formation was just outside the town of Mexican Hat. Get it? Mexican Hat!
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And those mountains are actually called the Navajo Blanket Formation. How appropriate!
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The good new here is that we arrived at a lovely campground in Blanding, Utah before we came to those snow capped mountains!

After we got settled in, and had a nice home-cooked dinner (no, really, I cooked!), we were treated to this wonderful end-of-day blessing.
Utah Sunset
God is so good to us!

Mondays are for Memories – Tulips!

After a pretty rough winter I think we’re all longing for spring! So in honor of that longing, here is a post from early May, 2009, when we visited the Skagit Tulip Festival in Skagit, Washington. It was spectacular!

By the time I returned from Columbus (and that great week with the kids), the tulips had come out in full force over at the Skagit Tulip Festival. I couldn’t resist all of the beautiful color, and I was very busy clicking away. Although the main attractions are the fields and fields of tulips, we really enjoyed a little “sampler” corner that was full of individual rows of beautiful blooms.

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But those fields full of blooms were pretty impressive too!
Renegade Yellow
(I loved that little renegade yellow tulip!)
Tulips to mountains
Skagit Tulips

But our day wasn’t only about tulips! We also went to the cute little town of LaConner where we visited the LaConner Quilt and Textile Museum (well, actually I visited the museum and Gary took a nap!). The exhibits were impressive – the first floor full of quilts and quilt tops by a traditional quilter that not only quilted by hand, but also pieced by hand. Such tiny stitches!
The second floor was dedicated to work by textile artist Sheila Groman. One of her specialties is the crazy quilt – fantastic detail!
Crazy quilt Sheila Groman
And up on the third floor were amazing works of textile art by Karin Franzen. No pictures allowed up there on the third floor, but the art was stunning. Ms. Franzen lives in Fairbanks, AK – do you think she’ll mind if I stop by while I’m in town?

Speaking of Alaska (we were, weren’t we?) – our scheduled departure date is Monday May 11th. Our caravaning buddies have all arrived here at Warm Beach and this week, along with our Sower work, we’ll be doing all of the last minute chores in preparation for our trek north. Here’s our team – I’m sure you’ll be hearing (and seeing) alot about them in the weeks and months to come!
(We took them back to the tulips today before it started to rain. Already fields are beginning to be de-capitated of the beautiful blooms!)

Have a blessed Lord’s day – and if you’d like to see more of God’s tulip creations – the entire set is here!

Mondays are for Memories – March 2007

Still pretty gray and drizzly here in East Texas – so it seemed only right that I took a peek back to March of 2007 and a beautiful day that included a couple of waves and lots of blue skies!
A Day in the Sun – March 26, 2007


I figured it was about time we actually saw some of the beautiful area that is all around us and get these toes into the Gulf of Mexico , so armed with the Reader’s Digest The Most Scenic Drives in America , bookmarked to Drive 116 (Gulf Coast Drive) we started out early Saturday and headed toward Tallahassee. Our first destination was the Apalachee Savannahs Scenic Byway. It was a beautiful drive toward the coast through “longleaf pine flats, cypress bogs and grassy savannahs”. But before we had traveled too far we took a little side trip to the “The Garden of Eden Walk – Apalachiola Bluff and Ravine Preserve“. It seemed like a do-able hike (3 miles round trip), and after all, this is Florida right? How hard could this be? So off we set, me in my slip-on sandals and Gary in his docksides.
It started out nice and flat….
Then the terrain started to change (you know you’re in trouble when the trail guide says -“Do you notice the change in temperature?”)

and then the ups and downs started…..(get it – ravine and bluff) IMG_7225

We did finally make it to the top – and the view was very fine indeed –IMG_7230_edited
…the only problem was the 1.5 mile hike back to the car! It really was nice hike – though a bench or two along the way would have been nice for us out of shape (and badly shod) adventurers. A good start to the day, though.
Back to the Scenic Byway :-), until we came to Fort Gadsden Historic Site. A small but interesting site of Florida history (of which I know very little) and a nice little side trip.

OK – enough of the pines and live oaks with beautiful spanish moss. On to the BEACH! There were several choices, but we opted for St. Georges Island State Park – and it was a very good choice.

Need I say more.

After our beach fix we headed to Panama City where we joined friends for dinner and then headed back home to Bonifay. It was a full day – and a very very good one.
You can see the rest of the day’s photos here, if you’d like! Lots of Flora, but no Fauna – and lots of Blue Sky!

Mondays are for Memories – February 2011

In honor of it not getting out of the 30’s today (along with some cold drizzly rain) here in Livingston, TX and the pretty horrible weather happening across most of the country, here are some warm Florida memories from 4 years ago!

This Month’s Florida – February 21, 2011
This was the Florida we were in last month –
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This is the Florida we are in this month –
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The lean palm trees have been replaced by stately Live Oaks draped with Spanish Moss.
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We don’t see so many vibrant flowers,
but that doesn’t mean there isn’t lots of interesting flora if you look hard enough!
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The Great White Heron and pelican
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have been replaced with Sandhill Cranes.
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We’re not surprised by bright green iguanas in the bushes,
but rather we’re always on the lookout for those funky armadillos!
(For a critter that doesn’t actually move all that fast, I was having a terrible time getting a good picture of him. I’ll blame the bad lighting, OK?)
They spend a lot of time with their noses in the dirt and leaves looking for food, so it’s not a surprise that when he finally got close enough for a flash picture, I managed to get it with an inappropriately placed leaf!

So that’s a snapshot of flora and fauna here in Central Florida. And while it’s quite a different Florida than what we enjoyed last month, we’re finding great beauty in this area also.
See ya later!