Thursday, July 21, 2016

Tahoe Top Ten {Tahoe Trip Days 4-10}

I don't think I'll ever post the entire trip if I keep doing it one day at a time. So, without further ado, my favorite way to recap a vacation--our Tahoe Trip Top Ten (in no particular order).

1. Swimming
The cabin we were renting had an indoor pool and an outdoor spa. All the kids were super pumped. I was semi-pumped, because my kids do not know how to swim. I know this is bad and I have all kinds of explanations, but let's not get into them. Anyway, this meant that I couldn't just send my kids off with the other kids to swim. And the other kids were swimming quite a lot, so my kids were either feeling left out or I was in the pool. I was in the pool a lot that week :) I did work with the boys on getting comfortable with putting their heads and faces into the water and jumping from me to the edge, so that was a start at least. Anyway, we played in the pool lots and lots and lots! The kids loved it. I had a lot of fun, too. We also all enjoyed the hot tub. One night Ryan and I went in after we'd put the kids down and it was so relaxing! My knee bothered me a fair amount while we were in Tahoe, and the spa helped loosen it back up.

2. Beach Day
We ended up being in Tahoe during a very cold week for June, even for them. The highs were mostly in the low to mid sixties. Honestly, I was totally fine with that--the weather was a blessed reprieve from scorching summer we'd come from in Vegas. The only problem was that the cold kept us out of the lake! We were hoping to rent paddle boast one day, but unfortunately there was too much wind for them to allow us to go out on the water. Instead, we settled in at the beach. We were pretty cold but the kids thouroughly enjoyed themselves! Lila spent her time talking people into digging in the dirt with her. Asher and Reed explored a "tide pool" of sorts they found on the beach. The big kids, Ryan, and Steve played a game involving a ball and letters and throwing the ball at people--Dogs, maybe? It looked like a lot of fun! The kids played far longer than I thought they would and had so much fun despite the cold.

3. Duck Race + Bike Fest
There was a sign we passed daily advertising a Duck Race. Our kids asked if we could go to the Duck Race every single time we passed the sign. So when the day of the race came, we headed over to the neighboring town for the race! The town was adorable. And the festival set up with the Duck Race was perfect for us. The kids played carnival games, got their faces painted, won prizes, played on a fun playground, and got to choose their favorite ducks. Then we got to watch the actual races! The ducks being raced were plastic ducks that various members of the community had decorated. A course of PVC pipe (?) was laid out in part of the river, and the winning ducks won prizes. Asher was the most enthralled with the races and would have watched every single heat if the other kids weren't getting so antsy! The only thing that would have made the morning better was if some cousins had joined us!

While we were driving back to Tahoe, we noticed a sign advertising a Bike Festival that was going on right then and was on our route home! We stopped, of course. The kids were a little bummed they didn't have their bikes, because if they did have their bikes they could have decorated them, then ridden through an obstacle course. But, we did get to try a few more carnival games and got hooked up with gear--we all came away with backpacks, water bottles, bike bells and lights, chapstick, and snacks. I even got a free Lake Tahoe shirt, which I was pretty pumped about!

4. Date Night
One night, the oldest cousins were left in charge of the youngest cousins. My kids make up three of the four youngest cousins, so I benefited greatly from this arrangement. While the kids partied, all the adults went out to dinner! We had a very enjoyable evening talking and relaxing without the kids all running around. And our food was delicious, so that wasn't bad, either.

5. Tahoe Rim Trail
We had a large group, and large groups tend to be slow going in the mornings. Our kids are always up early and are easy to get ready for the day, so we weren't really slow going in the mornings. One morning, while we were waiting around for everyone else to be up for the day, we decided to explore. Ryan had heard about the Tahoe Rim Trail--a trail that goes ALL the way around Lake Tahoe--and found out that one of the trail heads (there are many, and they all hook up eventually) was not far from us at all. We hiked the first little bit of the trail while the kids complained the whole way. I'm not exactly sure why they were so opposed to hiking that particular morning--usually they love hiking--but they did not hide their disapproval of our morning activity well. We hiked for 20 minutes or so before turning around so we could make it back to the car and back to the group for the days' activities.

A few days later, part of the group was planning on going to a movie in the morning. Nothing was playing that we were interested in, so we decided to go back to the trail, this time with Steve and Peyton in tow. Unfortunately, my knee was not cooperating, so I got about 5 minutes into the hike before I realized I was not capable of hiking that day. Lila and I turned around and headed home, while the others stayed to hike. I have heard that there was much less grumbling and that the hike was really cool.

6. Waterfall Hike (Cascade Falls?)
On our first full day in Tahoe, we wanted to go back to the waterfall hike we'd done last year. Parking took some doing--apparently that is a very popular  hike in Tahoe--but once we were all finally situated we took off! The hike leads to a bridge that crosses the waterfall and is really beautiful. Once we got past the waterfall, we largely ignored the sign warning that to hike farther you needed a permit and went for it! Eventually, we got to a plateau and settled in to take a break. From the plateau, we had a beautiful view of the lake in the distance. The plateau also boasted several large boulders that were not near any cliffs (that second part was important to me) that the kids had fun climbing and exploring. They also attempted to make rock cairns and were at least mildly successful.

7. Commanding View
The area around our cabin was great for exploring. The cabin was on a street with other cabins, but the street backed up to a fairly sharp drop-off. Only the top one floor was above ground on the street side, but all five floors were exposed on the back side due to this crazy drop off. Anyway, there were no houses behind the cabin and not really any close neighbors--so we had a lot of land to wander. There was one particular rock outcropping the kids all liked. Quinn described it to me as offering a "commanding view"--and she was right, it did! The kids also discovered a "clubhouse" in this outcropping. Quinn taught Lila and I (and also a few others, I'm sure) how to use the big rocks to smooth and polish smaller rocks. We loved being around good climbing places.

8. Bikes
One of the activities from the last reunion we knew we absolutely needed to repeat was the bike ride! Last year, Ryan and I were too sick on bike day to ride. This year, my knee was too lame to let me bike ride. Ryan took Lila in a baby seat attached to his bike, which she was a HUGE fan of. I think she liked being up so high, as opposed to being right next to the ground in her bike trailer. The boys each hopped on a bike of their own. Asher's bike was a little on the tall side for him, and I heard that he wiped out pretty hard once, but he was a good sport and hopped right back on every time he fell! Grandpa, Payton, Mary, and Eric decided to go with a Surrey--a decision they would come to regret. Luckily, Steve chose the bike with the insanely wide tires and was able to ride and push them up some of the steeper hills! Ruth and I drove after the bike brigade. They had a gorgeous ride that everyone gushed over (I'm really sad I missed it if you can't tell) and we met them at the Camp Richardson ice cream parlor. This ice cream parlor had delicious ice cream that came in ridiculously large scoops. We ordered two child scoops and a single scoop for our five family and had more ice cream than we probably needed! After feasting, they headed back to the bike shop. When we met them there, we saw that sweet Lila had fallen asleep and missed most of the ride back. The Surrey was understandably a bit behind everyone and we cheered them on as they pulled in!

9. Kamdyn's Birthday Celebration
Kamdyn celebrated her 15th birthday while we were in Tahoe and we had the best day celebrating! One of my personal favorite parts of the day was when we had a family soccer match at a nearby park. Hamblys are known for being competitive and a family soccer match is no exception to this rule. Every single person in the family played and it was amazing! A few people commented on my awesome slide tackle. What they didn't know was that I totally slipped and was not trying to end up on the ground, haha!

I can't remember if we also went bowling or mini golfing on Kamdyn's birthday, so we'll just cover both here! The bowling game was great. I was Lila's official team mate and she is such a ham that I was laughing the whole time. The boys were in the all-kids lane and were loving it. They actually did pretty well! The mini golfing was another fun experience. We started out staggered, but we kind of got to watch everyone at various points along the golf course. I believe Grandma even got a hole-in-one twice!

That night, we celebrated with pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey and a pinata. Ryan and Kent rigged the pinata to hang from the third floor balcony to the fifth floor balcony, which I found to be pretty impressive. The kids, of course, very much enjoyed breaking the pinata open and diving after the prizes. I was in charge of tying on the blindfold, which wasn't a problem until we got to the older kids who are ALL taller than me. When did this happen?

10. Smart A + Karaoke
Grandma and Grandpa brought along a new game called "Smart A." The game was fantastic and I was awful at it! Basically, you're trying to be the first to answer a trivia question based on a series of clues. I'm not great at trivia but I enjoyed the game anyway! At one point we had a round of Smart A going with about 12 people involved. Grandma had also brought along UNO, and we ended up playing many rounds of UNO with the littler kids who couldn't play Smart A (the trivia was more geared toward adults).

And finally, karaoke. Karaoke was so great last time that we all wanted to do it again. Honestly, I missed a big chunk of karaoke because I was putting the kids down, then making sure Lila went to sleep. I wasn't feeling great myself so I went to bed early. But I heard that it was a lot of fun yet again, so I'll chalk it up to am is and make sure I get more karaoke time next reunion.

We had so much fun and can't wait for our next reunion!

She found this tree on our hike and wanted to "always remember it"

A rock shaped like Nevada:)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Carson City {Tahoe Trip Day 3}

We woke up in Carson City with zero plans until 4:00 p.m., when we could check in to the cabin in Lake Tahoe, and only a 40-minute drive to get to the cabin. So we decided to see what Carson City had to offer! It is our state's capitol, after all. Our first stop was the capitol building. Reed was interested in seeing the capitol building since he'd learned in school about Carson City being our state's capitol. Unfortunately, the building wasn't open for tours that day, but the grounds were beautiful to walk around and there were several interesting statues and memorials we enjoyed looking at. Next, we went to the Nevada State Railroad Museum. Museums are always a little iffy with the kids, because they just want to DO stuff and Ryan and I want to be all boring and read the information in each display. Happily, at the beginning of the first section of the museum was a train table with Thomas trains. The kids happily played while Ryan and I got to learn to our hearts' content. Once the kids tired, we moved through the information much more quickly. I had no idea the railroad shaped so much of Nevada--especially northern Nevada, nor that it was a huge undertaking to find, grade, and lay a railroad track through the northern part of the state. The museum did have real, full-size trains inside the building, which the kids appreciated, and once we made our way to the second building we found that we could ride/propel ourselves on one of the little carts that workers would take to work on tracks and trains! The cart was SO much fun and the kids would have ridden it over and over had we been allowed.

Next we stopped at Walmart for numbing cream from my mouth because I had destroyed my lip by biting it while we were camping (accidentally) and was being caused ridiculous amounts of pain by such a small injury. We ended up finding cheap shoes all around and probably some other things, too, because we never leave Wal-Mart with only the item we originally intended to buy.

We still had time in our day, so we decided to visit Mormon Station and the tiny town of Genoa. Mormon Station was the first permanent settlement in northern Nevada. And, as you may have guessed, it was settled by the Mormons. Ryan and I really enjoyed the Station and the kids really enjoyed the tiny maps of Genoa they came away with. Genoa itself is adorable. We walked Main Street and eventually ended up at a park, where the trees and shade and gorgeous weather made me seriously wonder why on earth we live on the surface of the sun.

By now, 4:00 was nigh and we were all ready to go. We drove up the ridiculous Kingsbury Grade and just like that we were in Tahoe! We got to the house and were greeted by pretty much everyone. The kids were immediately off in various escapades with their cousins while the parents decided on sleeping arrangements and got all the bags in. The house was HUGE--5 stories maybe?--and had tons of land to explore. It also had an indoor pool, which made all the kids very, very happy. That first night we talked for hours while the kids partied hard. This would be a recurring theme throughout the week.

Dolly thinks it's hilarious to cover her face in pictures, so I covered mine, too. She was quite amused.

The tree that made me rue the Las Vegas heat.

Random, but this meandering stream was my view as we drove up the Kingsbury Grade. It deserves all the heart eye emojis.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Yosemite {Tahoe Trip Day 2}

We woke up early (not surprisingly), breakfasted, and hopped in the car to drive to Yosemite! Yosemite was a two-hour drive and we honestly debated whether we wanted to spend four hours of our day driving--but goodness are we glad we did. We officially entered Yosemite after only about 15-20 minutes of driving, which meant that the other 1.75 hours of our drive, first way up into the mountains, then way down into the canyon to the hike and visitor's center were absolutely ridiculously beautiful. I lost count of how many deer we saw. There were meandering streams (my favorite) everywhere, waterfalls around every corner, and trees stretching so high we couldn't see the tops. The kids started this thing where they counted the height of trees in how many Daddys it would take to equal the height of the tree. Ryan had to ask me to stop gasping in awe because the drive was a little treacherous and my gasps were making him nervous.

Our first hike--Bridaveil Fall--was short but beautiful. You wind on a short path next to a river and don't really have a view of the fall until you come to the end of the path, which is at the base of the waterfall. There was enough mist to be super chilly--we are used to the desert--but we braved the wet long enough to take an appreciating view of the waterfall, which truly was beautiful. Yosemite is home to many waterfalls, and luckily for us, we visited the park during spring runoff, which is the peak waterfall time. During the fall months, some of the falls dry to only a trickle!

After Bridalveil, we drove further into the main part of the pakr and found our parking spot for the day. We walked to the visitor's center, briefly wishing we'd brought our bikes like we'd originally planned when we saw all the people who were enjoying the bike/pedestrian walkways. But, we did realize that the park was busy enough that bikes maybe wouldn't have been quite so enjoyable. One day we'll go back with bikes. We arrived at the visitor's center and Ryan asked a ranger what we absolutely HAD to see (he's awesome like that and asks this question of rangers at every park we visit), we picked up our traditional postcards and got a stamp in our passport, and we roughly planned our day.

The first thing on our list of must-sees was Yosemite Falls. This was another very brief but very beautiful "hike"--more of a walk with the paved trail. The falls were ridiculous. In a good way. The boys were quite excited by a squirrel we saw, but aghast at the person TRYING TO TOUCH THE SQUIRREL. Hadn't this visitor read the signs about the squirrels carrying the plague? Didn't they know you weren't supposed to touch the squirrels? I love our little rule followers. Ryan dared the boys to give a stranger a high five on the way down from the falls, but neither would try, which wasn't really surprising. I probably wouldn't have, either :)

We were all hungry by this point, so we decided to hop back on to the park shuttle to find a good picnic spot near the next hike we wanted to do. We took an unexpected detour, though, when we saw a cool looking house right next to a shuttle stop. We needed to find out what this house housed (see what I did there?). The house turned out to be a conservation center, where the kids had fun coloring for a bit while Ryan and I talked to one of the volunteers there. Right across from the house was another intriguing looking site--a campground named "housekeeping." We went to check out the campground and decided we'd be returning to Yosemite sometime in the future and camping there. The sites are kind of hard to describe but are basically permanent tents--they are made of a canvas-y material and are enclosed on three sides, with one open side. Inside are a queen bed and bunk beds. There's an eating area right outside and the entire site backs up to the river. We'll be back, housekeeping.

Anyway, we were even more hungry now, after our unplanned detours, so found a good-sized log overlooking the river and enjoyed our picnic. Many squirrels got unnervingly close, so every few bites, we'd have to yell or something to scare them away. We started referring to the squirrels as "plague" rather than squirrels. A beautiful blue-black bird also came to keep us company, I'm sure hoping to be fed, too.

Instead of going back to our originally planned hike after lunch, we decided to explore where we were. There was a bridge not far from us crying out to be crossed, so we did that, then followed a trail through the trees. The boys, of course, immediately found sticks to carry. Reed has this thing with sticks. He's always loved them and always find at least one to carry on every hike we go on. Ryan showed off, balancing a rather large stick vertically on his hand for a few steps. We were the only people on our "trail," which was refreshing after being surrounded by lots of people for the better part of the day. Our trail eventually crossed the road, then led to a huge field with a terrific view of half-dome. We kept following the trail, eventually crossing another road and coming to a T. We decided we'd probably better figure out where we were, so pulled out the map and remained thoroughly confused for a good few minutes. Finally, we kind of figured out where we were and decided to walk up to the next shuttle stop. On the way, we saw a really cool rock structure on the side of the road as well as more views of half-dome. Our unplanned detours were my favorite part of the day. We had so much fun tramping through the trees (on a path, we're not barbarians!) without anyone else around, kind of in our own little world. I feel like we really got to enjoy Yosemite by walking around and taking in the animal sounds and the river rushing by us and the enormity of the trees we were walking among.

We were pretty tired by now, so decided not to go on our next planned hike (Mirror Lake), but to finish the shuttle loop, then head back to our camp site. The drive in to Yosemite was pretty crazy and we didn't want to be anywhere near that road in the dark. We did make a brief stop at the stables to see the horses, then walked to the next shuttle stop because it wasn't far off. On our walk we got to walk through this really cool rock tunnel built into the bottom of the bridge--and, of course, throw rocks into the water. We eventually finished the loop and made our way back to the car.

We made the drive back to June Lake without incident (and with me withholding from gasping every few seconds) and decided to eat at a restaurant in two instead of roasting hot dogs at our campsite--we were all hungry and possibly approaching hangry so we knew we shouldn't mess around, haha. We noticed that a storm appeared to be rolling in, and a quick check on the weather app confirmed that it was supposed to rain MOST OF THE NIGHT. We'd had a close on the weather in the days leading up to our trip and hadn't seen a hint of rain in the forecast, so this was an unexpected twist. We were tent camping, planning on leaving the next morning. We knew we'd have a miserable night if the rain brought on the insanity winds of the day before. And all our stuff would be muddy in the morning--stuff we'd have to pack in the car, leave in the car for our week in Tahoe, then clean back in Vegas. Yuck. So I hopped on priceline, found literally the cheapest hotel in Carson City, and as soon as we finished eating we hopped back in the car to drive another two hours. The kids were good sports and, because they were so tired, zoned out to Curious George for the first hour or so until we turned off the movie and encouraged them to sleep. They were almost all soon sleeping. (Someone stayed awake, but I can't remember who it was. Either Lila or Reed.) We gained a lot of elevation on the first part of our drive, so enjoyed the setting sun for a long, long time--many times, just as the sun appeared to be going down, we'd crest a hill and have a clear view of it again!

Finally we arrived in Carson City to find that I'd booked a room with one king bed. In my defense, I'd gone for the "special deal" and didn't realize until after I'd booked it that the listing had no detail on bed arrangements. We made a bed for the boys on the floor (they're good sports) and a bed for Lila on this weird little built in bench that was next to the sink. It was the perfect size for her, really, and worked out well. Once we'd tucked the kids in, I went to the grocery store in search of ice cream for Ryan and I. My search was successful. I even remembered to buy spoons!

Now on to the part I have the most trouble with: ending a blog post. Let's just say THE END and call it good.

 These trees were about "15 Daddys" tall.

 Bridaveil Falls

 Bridalveil behind thug-life Lila.

 Yosemite Falls.

Our friend Plague, the squirrel a visitor was trying to touch.

 Our most successful shuttle seat--the whole back row!

 The bird friend who wanted lunch.

 The view from our picnic spot.

 Reed and his "little" stick.

 Counting tree rings.

 Ryan showing off.

 Wow! This was the meadow we walked across.

Before we left our campsite, we had to take a picture of the kids in the bear box. Ryan had told them scouting stories involving bear boxes and they were pumped to see one in real life!

 Part of the never-ending sunset.

 Jae Jae's special bed!