Today we kidnapped Allista and headed for Death Valley. It was a long day with a lot of driving but we saw some really cool things. The first stop was Ashford Mill Ruins. Not really much to see here except the outside walls of a building.
The next stop was the Badwater Basin. This basin is 282 feet below sea level. We walked out on the salt flats, it was really strange. At first it looks like you are stepping on an ice skating rink:
There is a sign up on the rocks that shows sea level and that is when you realized how far down you really are. Here is a nice photo of the gang:
A short drive up the road brings us to the Natural Bridge. It is a half a mile uphill hike to the arch. We left mom in the car for this one. The hike was a bit tiresome as it was on big gravel. Not the best for walking. We hiked past the arch to a dry waterfall. That was kind of cool. Here is the arch and dry waterfall:
Artist's Drive and Palette
This is a one way drive to the face of the Black Mountains and is noted for having various colors of rock. These colors are caused by the oxidation of different metals (red, pink and yellow is from iron salts, green is from decomposing tuff-derived mica, and manganese produces the purple). It is really cool!
Furnace Creek and the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
After driving through the Artist’s Palette, we headed to the Furnace Creek area for lunch. We stopped at the visitor center where it was over 60 degrees cooler than the last time we stopped there when it was 116 degrees…in the shade! After lunch we drove up the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. We didn’t actually get out and walk to them as we were running out of sun and there was something more exciting up the road. But here is the picture I took from the parking lot:
The Mosaic Canyon is my new favorite spot of the park. We had never hiked to it before so this was a first for us. The canyon is in the north western mountain face of the valley which is named after a stream-derived breccia sediment with angular blocks of dolomite in a pebbly matrix. The entrance to Mosaic Canyon appears deceptively ordinary, but just a 1/4 mile walk up the canyon narrows dramatically to a deep slot cut into the face of Tucki Mountain. Smooth, polished marble walls enclose the trail as it follows the canyon's curves. There was a great view of the valley on our hike down to the car.
After that we headed back to Tracie’s in Pahrump.
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
The 3:30 am alarm came way too soon. We got our stuff packed up and headed to the airport for our Vegas adventure. No big problems getting on the plane and taking off. We landed in Vegas and 30 degrees. There was a bit of a chill when we got off the plane. We got the car and made our way to Pahrump. Tracie made homemade pizza for us. It was delicious. I love her pizza. After lunch we ventured off.
Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge
About 30 minutes away from Pahrump is the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. The place is huge. We walked a couple of the board walks and watched pup fish in the blue water. One of the park employees was wading in the water, trying to catch invasive fish. He said the water was really warm. Seems strange when it was chilly outside. It was an interesting time, we spend over 2 hours there. Here are some pictures:
Don’t Break the Ice…Ward style.
After the park we went back to Tracie’s house. Mike was doing target practice with the Nerf guns, cross bow and bow and arrow. They got this bright idea to shoot at the Don’t Break the Ice game. Chaos ensued. We all took a shot at it even my mom! It was fun. Video: Don't Break the Ice Ward Style
KFCTracie, Mike and Eric went out to get some KFC for dinner. Some of the kids wanted KFC and Eric is always up for KFC. We ate dinner and called it a night for us.
That is the time I woke up. Why did I wake up? Well the red light on the alarm clock went dark and it woke me up. The power is off…crap! I look outside and there is at least 5 inches of snow…double crap! It is Bridal Shower Day and we have no power and there is a lot of snow outside. I couldn’t fall back to sleep. I started to stress out. No heat, no way to warm up the food and quite a few people going a long distance to get here…what the heck am I to do? So I stressed. Mom, Mike and I sat in the dark living room and was Facebooking on our phones. What else could we do? I called the power company and had to deal with stupid questions like “did you check the fuse box?” Well duh! And “do your neighbors have lights?” It is 4:45 am on a Saturday morning, I’m not going to call them to find out. Mom said she could really go for toast and coffee so Mike and I went in the 4x4 sleigh over the river, through the snow, over the hills through the woods to Kwik Trip. Thankfully when we got home the lights were back.
The Bridal Shower
I have to say we had a fantastic time. All of her aunts on her dad’s side were there. A cousin or two, all the bridesmaids (one drove from Illinois and one from Duluth (in the snow). Bradley’s Mom drove all the way from Amboy, MN too. We had eat great food (thanks Mom), played a few games and she opened presents. Here are some photos:
|The cake and Danielle|
|With the Moms|
|The Biseks and Anna|
|The Bridesmaids and the Bride|
After everybody left and we cleaned up, we went out for dinner for my birthday. After dinner we drove to Independence to see Christmas lights. It was a great birthday and I went to bed feeling like I had a great birthday…
Sometime after we went to bed, we got a text that Eric’s brother Dan had passed away after a long battle with cancer. A sad end to my birthday. I’m grateful he is at peace and no longer in pain. Even though we knew it would happen soon, it didn't prepare me for when it did happen. He will be missed. I have many fond stories of Dan, my most favorite is his inability to use a hammer. I was paired with him to frame windows in the basement remodel. We had fun, he always praised my hammering abilities. I thank my dad for that…
Speaking of my Dad…
Sunday morning was the Memorial Mass for my Dad. Celebrating his life and death. It has been 8 years. It was a rough Mass for me. I cried for my Dad, I cried for Dan…it was very emotional.
I’m a little late on this but I’m wide awake at 5am in Pahrump so I thought I’d could catch up on the blog. Christmas Eve, after a 4 mile run, we traveled to Eau Claire for a party at my cousin Paula’s house. It was good to see some of my cousins again and the food was good…lots of
desserts (I’m in the desert, I got confused on which word)! Thankfully I
mentioned that St. Olaf (right by Paula’s house) had 5pm Mass. We were planning
on going to the 10:30 mass in my hometown parish. I wasn’t too excited for staying
up that late…I’m more of a morning person (which is why I’m up at 5am). I wish I
was a night person and could sleep in but alas. I was happy to go the Christmas
Eve Mass and see them bless the baby Jesus and the manger. After Mass, we
picked up Aunt Bev and took her home. I had an exhausting day and was in bed by
Like I mentioned above, sleeping in and me don’t work. I was up around 4am. Mom worked me like a horse…if only I could sleep in. LOL! We had a great lunch. Danielle, Dylan and Bradley came down and Becky, AJ and Trevor (friends of Mike’s, Becky and Trevor lived with Mike for a while). We played 10,000. Becky won the first game and I won the second. It was fun. Everybody stayed around all day. The kids left around 6pm. We picked up some pizzas at Kwik Trip for a late dinner, Becky and gang were still there. They finally left after 8pm. Again we were in bed before 10. Even Eric!
Ok so I know we don’t celebrate Boxing Day but we basically do…we do what they do in countries that have it…shop, shop, shop! But first I had to make some cupcakes. The woman who was going to make Danielle’s bridal shower cake couldn’t make it because of her sick mom. Mom tried to find a store, Hy-Vee, Wal-Mart, etc…to make a carrot cake (Danielle’s request) but none of them made carrot. So we made cupcakes. At some point I had a lightbulb go off and remembered that my friend made a princess cake a while back and it was in the shape of a dress. So I googled cupcake wedding dress and found many examples. I was so excited. So I made the cupcakes and realized that mom accidently picked up a spice cake mix so I had to go get another carrot cake mix. We swung by Mc Donald’s for a breakfast sandwich and to harass my mom working behind the counter. She looks so cute in her Mc Donald’s hat! After mom got home from work, we picked up Anna and went shopping. We had to get stuff for the bridal shower including a gift! After all that we picked up Aunt Bev, Eric was blessed amongst women on the drive home!
So after we got home from shopping mom and I put the cake together. Mom is amazing at frosting. I bought some pearl Sixlets for the waist. Here is the final result.
We finished the night at the Newcomb Valley Bar for a Friday fish fry…oh Wisconsin!
Monday, December 15, 2014
I’ve been very frustrated for the last 3 weeks. Since Thanksgiving, I have done nothing but gain weight. I know I’ll get on the horse again and hopefully lose these pain-in-the-butt pounds. But part of me is worried that I won’t and by Danielle’s wedding I’ll weigh 300 pounds. I know that once I get through this Christmas time and get back to work in dreaded January, I’ll be able to focus again and try and lose this weigh I gained plus much, much more.
I haven’t given up on the running so that is good. I am very excited for the 2015 race schedule. I have 22 or so races I’m planning on doing. I’ve only registered for 5. Some aren’t open to registration yet and some I have some time before the price goes up. I need to spread out the spending on these since it will be well over $1,000 for registration fees alone…just for me! Bold ones are already registered so I have a race in each of the first four months of the year:
1/1/2015 Commitment Day 5k
1/25/2015 Lake Minnetonka Flurry Scurry 5K
2/14/2015 Valentine's Day TC 5K
3/1/2015 Frosty Foot 5K
3/7/2015 Hot Dash 5K
4/11/2015 Goldy's 10 Mile Relay
4/18/2015 Hot Chocolate 15K
5/3/2015 Minnetonka Half Marathon
5/17/2015 Esprit de She Lakeville Duathlon
6/13/2015 Summer Breeze 10K
7/4/2015 Red, White & Boom! Half Marathon Relay
7/22/2015 Torchlight 5K
8/22/2015 Maple Grove Triathlon
8/29/2015 Women Rock 10K
9/12/2015 Suds Run 5K
9/13/2015 Sioux Falls Marathon Relay
9/27/2015 The HealthPlus Brooksie Way 10K
10/3/2015 TC 5K
10/17/2015 Mankato 5K
10/18/2015 Mankato 10K
11/26/2015 Joslyn Castle Turkey Trot 5K
12/5/2015 Reindeer Run 5K
As you see, I’m already registered for a 15K and I have half on the list. I guess we will see. I ran 6.5 miles on Saturday (after which Eric asked “Why didn’t you go 7?” and I replied “Shut Up!”). After that I thought to myself, crap, how am I going to do 3 more miles…or worse double that effort? What have I gotten myself into????
Life and Lights
We had a nice weekend in Mankato. I helped Danielle on the wedding invitations and Eric and Bradley helped DJ fix things in her basement. Q and Pumpkin were very cuddle on Saturday…not so much on Sunday.
We had dinner at Applebee’s and walked through the Lights at Sibley Park. It really is quite a lot of lights!
Sunday we did more stuff in the basement and went shopping. It was a nice weekend away.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
Everybody in the Williams family is posting pictures of Dan and many of them are family photos. I love these since I haven't really seen any pictures of Eric as a kid. He was always a dorky kid...
I did my best on the years. Some I know because the person posting them listed them, others I based on who was the baby. LOL!
Back: Bonnie holding Felicia, Phil, & Tim
Middle: Judy holding Eric, Terry holding Adrian,
Front: Dan, Tracie, DJ, Chris and Matt
Back: Terry, Tim, Judy Phil
Middle: Adrian, Bonnie, Matt, Dan Chris, Tracie
Front: Eric (on Bonnie's lap), Felicia and DJ
Back: Tim, Phil, Bonnie, Tracie
Middle standing: Dan, Matt, Felicia
Front: Adrian, Chris holding Elaine, DJ, Eric (nice red pants), Craig, Felicia
This picture includes all the Williams grand kids. Eric is in front with the yellow shirt.
Back: Matt, Phil, Tim, Dan, Chris
Middle: Felicia, Tracie, DJ, Adrian, Bonnie
Front: Eric, Elaine, Terry holding Byron, Judy, Carrie and Craig
Back: Phil, Matt, Tracie, Dan, Chris
Middle: Eric, Adrian, DJ, Craig,Felicia
Front: Elaine, Terry, Carrie, Judy holding Byron
Back: Phil, DJ, Dan, Matt, Tim, Judy, Chris, Adrian
Middle: Eric, Bonnie, Terry, Craing, Felicia, Tracie
Front: Carrie, Elaine, Byron
|1989 Bonnie and Hiram's Wedding|
In addition to the Reindeer Run, we also went to the Vikings/Jets game with Byron and Paula. I wasn’t looking forward to the game because sitting on bleachers in 30 degrees, a mist and wind just doesn’t sound fun to me. I like the Vikings but that is really pushing it for me, I’m not that diehard of a fan! I’ll run in cold but that is because I will heat up and feel fine. You don’t really move much at a football game. So you are just plain cold! But I put on the layers and went to the game. It wasn’t too bad at the beginning. Thank God I lost all that weigh because my old jersey fit over my winter coat! I thought I had an appropriate amount of clothing on (three layers on top, two on bottom) but by the third quarter I was freezing, mostly my feet in my "winter" boats.
|A Jersey over a Jacket!|
|View from our wrong seats.|
The Kick Off
The game was interesting. The second play of the game the Vikings intercepted the ball and ran it in for a touchdown with only 12 seconds off the clock. Poor Byron, the Jets fan, I thought he was in for a rough day. After that I thought this game could be fun. Then the Jets got a safety and then a touchdown and the Vikings were losing. And then the Vikings were winning and so on and so forth. Sometime in the second quarter, I realized we were sitting in the wrong section but oh well, nobody kicked us out!
The half-time show was a peewee football team vs local mascots (Viktor the Viking, TC Bear, Goldy, Crunch (Twolves), Nordy (Wild) were some of the mascots. It was pretty cute. The mascots roughed up and taunted the players and harassed the “refs.” It was really hilarious. Here are some pictures:
The Second Half
The Vikings were leading 24-21 on the last drive of the game. I’m a horrible fan because I was so cold, I was hoping the Jets would score a touchdown so I could go home and warm up. Well they kicked a field goal and OT it was.
I really wanted to cry but I persevered. The Jets had the ball and again I was hoping they would score a touchdown so we could go home. But thankfully I only had to endure 5 minutes of OT as the Vikings’ QB Teddy Bridgewater made an audible at the line and we scored on an 87-yard reception. I was so excited…mostly to be going home!
The Ice Pellets
As we walked out of the stadium, the ice pellets started to fall. Thank GOD those didn’t come during the game because I really would have cried…frozen tears. We got home, wished Byron and Paula a safe trip home and we rushed off to my concert.
Sunday, December 7, 2014
Yay for 18 degrees! For last year’s Reindeer Run, it was 5 below with a nasty wind chill. It was much more festive this year. I would guess twice as many people showed up this year and most were not in the warming tent, unlike last year. Byron and Paula joined us for this race. I’m not sure how much Paula liked the cold running.
The start was not a sheet of ice this year so that was good. But with all the people who showed up this year it was packed. The first mile I was struggling to get in front of the wall of people. I think that is why my pace was a little slow. I was a little concerned that my time would be slower than last week’s hill race in Omaha. The first mile came in at 11:14. Still not too bad! I stayed pretty comfortable so I must have dressed appropriately. Last year I remember I over dressed and was broiling by the end of mile 1.
The middle of the race really wasn’t that memorable. I remember a dog almost tripped me…well he did trip me but I managed to stay on my feet. The crowd still hadn’t thinned out so I was still having trouble passing people. But other than that I don’t really remember much. My time was 10:59. I was happy to see a “10” but at this rate I wasn’t going to beat my previous time. I didn’t get discouraged but I really felt like this was going to be a lost race.
I’m not sure where this push came from but I finished mile 3 with a 10:29 time. It wasn’t as fast as the last mile of the Turkey Trot in Omaha or the 4th Mile of the Mankato 10K but both of those included nice long down hills. So I’m very happy with that. It also brought my overall pace to 10:50 for the run. My fastest ever and technically my fastest 5K race time since Omaha and Chocoholic Frolic were short of a true 5K. That makes me very excited. I never thought that after the first mile.
We celebrated our latest race finish with a stop at Starbucks and Bruegger's Bagels.
Pictures, Maps, Elevation and Splits
Monday, December 1, 2014
There is always an adventure with the Williams family and this Thanksgiving was no different. We drove down to Nebraska Wednesday morning…in a blizzard. This was what it looked like in Mankato:
We slowly made our way through the snow, stopping at the rest area near St. James. It snowed and was windy all the way to Worthington. Not cool!
Along the way, we got word that Bonnie was heading to KC because Hiram was sick. Um…who is going to cook the turkey? Well we got to Nebraska around 4pm and dropped our stuff off at Bonnie’s house and headed to Chris and Leilani’s house…with a stop at Starbucks first (of course!) We spent most of the night over there. We found out that Hiram was actually in the hospital with IV fluids. Wow! He got a flat tire on the way to the hospital so his boss picked him up and took him in. So Bonnie had to get the car towed and spring him from the hospital. Leilani and Banyan were going to her parents for Thanksgiving so that means our Thanksgiving would be just Eric and I, the Morales kids and Chris. Also Wednesday night...Michael got in a car accident...somebody rear ended the Blazer!! Like I said always an adventure!
Turkey Trot 5K
We did the Joslyn Castle Turkey Trot 5K at 9am. It was a lot more people this year. Chris joined us this year! You can read about the race in race report post. After the race (which I did awesome!) we headed to Starbucks for our reward! We couldn’t hang around though because we had a turkey to cook!
Cooking a Turkey
So Juliette and I had to figure out how to cook the turkey. I’ve cooked one once but there other smart people there who knew what to do. This time neither of us knew what we were doing. I made a call to my mommy when I could find the gizzards bag (it was in the neck?) and realized it was still a little frozen. Mom talked me through it and eventually we got the turkey in the oven. I didn’t know that when you use an roasting bag that the turkey will actually cook faster…now I know! So after 3 hours the timer thing popped. I thought I popped too early since the turkey bag said 4-5 hours. So I kept it cooking. I didn’t realize until Chris came over and said something about the roasting bag instructions. Doh! It wasn’t too bad though. Juliette and I also whipped together the side dishes and by 4pm we were eating dinner! Delicious!
We cleaned up and headed out shopping. Yes I’m one of those evil people that went out at 7pm to go shopping. It was surprisingly slow. Target and Kohl’s had checkout lines but nothing like I remember from years past. I got some stuff, stopped at Starbucks and was home by 9pm. It was great.
Juliette, Michael and I headed out to the Outlet malls but we couldn’t find a parking spot we just came back. We had lunch and Juliette and I went for a run. It was beautiful outside…great temperature for a run…but not after eating fried chicken. LOL! I did 5 miles and most of it was in the neighborhood. We had lasagna at Chris and Leilani’s house for dinner and went out shopping again…and Starbucks. Bonnie and Hiram came home around 9pm.
I went for a run in the morning. I had to get 4 more miles in before the end of the month to get to 50. Michael, Eric and I went to Starbucks afterwards (the usually). After Bonnie and Juliette got back from boxing we went shopping again with Maddie…we did a lot of shopping. Papillion had their annual Christmas lighting party so Bonnie, Eric, Chris, Adam, Juliette, Morgan, Banyan and I went to that. We got our carriage ride in, walked through an old farmhouse.
After that Bonnie, Juliette, Adam and I went to the Midtown area to see the window displays and lights. It was very pretty.
The Long Road Home
Sunday we went to 9am Mass and made our last trip to Starbucks for the weekend. We packed up our stuff and started on the road by noon. It was a long road back to Minnesota but it was nice to get home.