Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"Adventure" Home

This morning I got up, went with Mary & Doug to drop dad at the Phoenix International airport and enjoyed visiting with Mary for a bit.  Ben & Doug had been watching the weather and decided we should leave town in order to “get ahead of the snow.” After exploring several possible routes through the mountains, they decided that it would probably be best to head straight up I-17 to Flagstaff before getting on I-40 for the remainder of the trip (stay on 4-lane Interstate the whole way).
change in scenery within 60 miles or less
As we left Scottsdale there was a light drizzle, which progressed to harder rain as we left town, to light flurries and suddenly full-blown snow as we wound up through the mountains along I-17.
We had cruised about 90 miles and were at 7,000 ft. when the traffic came to a sudden halt…
and STAYED that way for over 3 ½ hours!
Ben's best fake smile after about an hour of sitting still.  Notice the people in the median... sledding!
Apparently there was a wreck (due to the snow) about a mile ahead, which caused the backup.
BUT due to the heavy/accumulating snow, it was hard to get a tow truck up ahead of everyone. 
AND since the highway hadn't been plowed, there were vehicles sliding, veering sideways and getting stuck everywhere once we were able to get moving.
I don’t normally get nervous driving through rain or snow, but today I terrified of getting stuck this afternoon.  I literally had sweaty palms & weak knees, praying we wouldn’t get stuck along the side of the road as I tried to steer into the snowy tracks. We had several “Little Miss Sunshine” moments, where Ben pushed us forward until we gathered speed…
Only to run along side our car and jump in. We must have done this at least 6 times as one of the cars ahead of us would get stuck.  Kaden must have been entertained watching all of this from the back seat because he barely let out a peep the whole time.
Kaden, not sure what to think of it all.

Instead of driving for 7+ hours and being much closer to the Texas border, we made it about 120 miles (total) before calling it a night in Flagstaff. 
Finally reaching a cruising speed of 25 mph for the last 30 miles to Flagstaff, Arizona.
The Prius prevailed!

I am told that when travel plans don't quite go your way, it is called "an adventure."  Right now Ben & Kaden are asleep here in our (nice) hotel room. 
This "adventure" has offered me some peace & quiet to reflect over our holiday & update our blog while listening to the snow/sleet hit our window.  Not bad.

Insight Bowl • Tempe, Arizona

I typically fall into a slight depression every time I leave my week-long vacation in Missouri.
Not this time.  I couldn't get sad because we loaded up dad the morning after Christmas and took him with us for a 1,450 mile road trip to Tempe, Arizona to watch the Tigers play the Hawkeyes in the 2010 Insight Bowl.  As luck would have it, Amarillo was our exact ½ way point between central-Missouri and Phoenix so we were able to make a brief pit stop at our house for the night.

On the 26th, we drove through Kansas City, not only to drop off dad's truck at the airport, but to fuel up at Arthur Bryant's BBQ in the middle of downtown.
The lone girl with my boys at Arthur Bryant's BBQ in Kansas City. 
Known as "THE best BBQ joint in Kansas City... the BBQ capital of the world"

Ben's Aunt Mary & Doug rolled out the red carpet and let us stay in their guest house in Scottsdale and even watched Kaden while we went to the game (which didn't even start until his bedtime).

I know all stadiums are unique, but Sun Devil Stadium is literally carved from the desert...
as in it was constructed between two mountains.
  I love this picture!  Cardboard cutout dad strategically placed in photo?
Although you can't tell from this early photo, there were 53,000+ fans who made the same pilgrimage from Missouri and Iowa to watch their team play in the desert. 
Marching Mizzou

Although we thought the Tigers might pull off a win, they ended up losing 24-27 in the last five minutes.  Regardless we were there, had a good time, and didn't have to freeze!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Camelback Mountain

Since the Bowl game didn't officially start until 8:00 p.m. we had the entire day to hang out in Phoenix.  After sitting in a car for 2 full days, we decided we needed to move a little and not sit aruond the house all day.  The perfect opportunity to hike Camelback!
  Camelback Mountain is only about 5 minutes from Mary's house (in the middle of town) and today was the perfect day to hike to the top because it was about 60° outside and sunny.  Mary dropped us off at the entrance and then entertained Kaden at her house for a couple of hours. 
It seemed as though everyone else in town thought it was a perfect day for a hike because there were TONS of people ascending & descending the 1,280 foot peak.   
posing in front of a Christmas tree someone had placed at the top
I'm so glad that we were in decent enough shape to make it to the top.  
It was awesome to see a 360° view of the entire Phoenix metro area, otherwise known as the
"Valley of the Sun," and surrounding mountains.   
after our 2-hour hike
Ben & Kristin (December 2010)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas with the Cooks

Warrenton • Columbia • California

Lots of driving and no heat in Kyle’s Saturn, which made the ride to Columbia that much more interesting.  Kyle had to work part of Christmas Day so we convoyed (Ben & Kaden in the heated car) to the Ragtag Cinema before we headed down to the farm.

The most exciting thing about this Christmas was the addition of another family member:
Lydia Faye Cook.  She is the daughter of David & Crystal Cook and was born on
December 11, 2010 and is precious.  A word not only used by me, but the BIG men of the family: David, Daniel AND uncle Gene... a word that I didn't think existed in their vocabulary.
the proud papa holding little Lydia

cousin Anna taking a turn

The difference of 15½ months.  I can't remember Kaden being this small.
Also LOVING the look on Anna's face! 

Grandpa Cook making sure Kaden gets new sizes of Mizzou apparel so he knows where he came from.

"You want me to go to school where?"

Aunt Pat made sure Kaden got a lot of little books for his travels.

fitting right in with the rest of the Cook clan

The "party" moved to Steve & Dawn's basement.  True to form, many of us stayed up ridiculously late visiting and catching up.  Definitely worth it & can't wait to do it again! 

Maybe at Stephenie & Jason's wedding in 2011?  Already looking forward to that...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Eve

Highlights from Missouri Christmas 2010
* playing in the SNOW with Kyle! It snowed ALL of Christmas Eve! (see previous post)
* watching Kaden react to the snow & playing in it for the 1st time
* eating dinner with dad, Kyle and Helen at the Broadway Brewery in Columbia
* delivering & unloading firewood with dad in Columbia
* being able to hang out with ALL of my family members
* Drew's cooking & having breakfast ready
* spending the night at Jessica & Shannon's new house outside Witchita, Kansas
* LOTS of free time (grandma & Drew babysitting) and alone time (which is a rarity now)
* getting to eat lunch, go shopping and get a pedicure with Jennifer
* Ben & I hanging out with Jennifer & Jeff (no kids!)
* getting lots of new reading material
* having a steady fire in the fireplace

Christmas Eve was spent at mom's house in Warrenton.
I made my lasagna, Kyle made a salad & garlic bread, and Drew made a killer gingerbread cheesecake.
We all must have been EXTRA good this year because Santa brought a TON of presents!
trying to open Kaden's first movie, "Horton Hears a Who"
trying out my "luxury scarf" from Helen
nothing says Christmas like Bruce Willis in "Die Hard 2"  HA!

Getting cozy for the evening...

Friday, December 24, 2010

I'm Dreaming...

... of a WHITE Christmas! 
NOT the muddy, drizzly mix we typically get in Missouri over Christmas break!
Kaden & mommy out in the snow  Christmas Eve, 2010

I don't know how I remembered us having snow pants for Kaden on top of me remembering to pack them... but I somehow managed to get them to Missouri AND it actually snowed!

BUT I'm fairly certain that Kyle & I had WAY more fun than anyone else...
salmon jumps
Cabin fever?  The joy of Christmas?  The thrill of snow?  What happens when the two of us get together as adults?  Who knows...