Happy New Year!
So it's been a whole year without a single post. 
What can I say, I took a little break?
2013 was a busy year for us, full of big changes.

We started the year by adding a new family member.
He's our Kona and he's now this loving, snuggling beast!


We had a great summer filled with trips to the beach, time with family and friends, and lots and lots of house hunting!

Alan even managed to find himself a new toy to keep him busy!

After a summer of house sitting and apartment renting we finally found our new home.
We are moved in, but still in the process of getting settled in.  So far we love it though and look forward to many years here.

And, it turns out that we found the house just in time, since these two guys will be joining us in the spring.

That's right, twins.  And, yes, twin boys!
We are guessing we will get to meet them  in late April or early May.

So, there you have it.  One whole year in one post. 
I promise I'll try to do better in 2014!

Happy New Year!

2012 is over and we get to start fresh with a brand new year.  2012 was a crazy year for us, but I guess in many ways they all are.  In the spirit of moving on and starting anew I am leaving 2012 behind and am hopeful for a wonderful 2013.  I don't really make resolutions, but I do try to make commitments, so for me, 2013 will be a year of hope, of patience, of being thankful and most of all being present and purposeful.  Here's to a wonderful New Year, Cheers!!

Our Anti-Thanksgiving

With busy schedules and little quiet over the months before Thanksgiving, we decided to boycott Thanksgiving and head off on a tropical vacation.

We spent 10 glorious days in the Florida Keys. Since it was kind of a last minute decision we drove the whole trip instead of flying.  Driving meant we could travel with less of a schedule, fly by the seat of our pants and of course take our bikes with us.  We spent the first few days in Key West. We stayed at "our" hotel, ate at Blue Heaven, drank at Irish Kevin's, watched the sunset at Mallory Square.  Our house is still standing and although many things have changed, the island still makes us feel at home.  After a day stop in Bahia Honda, one of the best beaches in the world, we headed to Key Largo for the rest of our time.
Key Largo is quiet and laid back.  The island truly runs on island time and it reminds us of what Key West was like 10 years ago.  We've come to love Key Largo and have found a resort where we hide away and enjoy the best of the island.  We spent the week riding bikes along the keys, sleeping late, listening to the waves and enjoying all the seafood we could eat.

Our actual Thanksgiving was something to be thankful for in itself.  We had dinner on the water, watching the sunset beyond the sailboats.  We had blackened Mahi for dinner, our goal for that day.  It wasn't anything like a typical American Thanksgiving, but it was perfect for us and a getaway we were truly thankful for.

soakin up the sun

our old home

 the Casa

 beautiful views everywhere you turn

our Thanksgiving dinner view

a great trip

Amish Country

I have always been fascinated by the Amish.  Really, I'm fascinated by any group of people who live in today's world, but live a completely different type of life from the "norm", whether it be for religious, social or other reasons.  I just think it's amazing that people can live in the modern world, but live in a way that is completely unique.

During my senior year of high school I got to really dig in to my interest of the Amish and complete what we called a "senior exit project" on the group.  The project consisted of a paper, physical item creation and a presentation.  I read everything I could find on the Amish in order to write that paper, I was so interested in the why's and how's of everything about them.  Then I studied their hand sewing method and created a quilt as my project.  Everything came together perfectly and I actually enjoyed the project. However, it only fueled my interest.

Ever since that senior project I have wanted to visit the Amish.  I would love to go in to a family, see how they live, learn from them, etc.  However, I know that this is very unlikely, so I've always wanted to visit an area where they live and just observe.

Well, thanks to a business trip Alan had in Indiana, I got to visit Shipshewana, IN, the heart of northern Indiana Amish Country.

My Amish experience began before we even got to Shipshewana and in the most unlikely way.  While making arrangements for the day and completing a few phone calls for work we stopped in a Walmart parking lot or a few minutes.  All of a sudden I saw what I thought was a carriage, but it was far away and my view was obstructed by cars.  A few minutes later I yelled "Amish people"! That's right, I saw my first live Amish people at Walmart!  I guess you really can find anything there! I sat in awe as they crossed the parking lot and parked their horse and carriage in the special barn at the edge of the parking lot.

Then like something out of a movie three women got out and made the long walk across the parking lot to the store. They were dressed in the perfect Amish outfits, from bonnets to black shoes.   I could hardly speak, it was almost surreal that they were right in front of me.

From there we drove to Shipshewana and landed right in Amish country.We were surrounded by horses and buggies, which made driving a car a bit tricky.

We also drove past tons of Amish homes.  They were all the typical two story white wooden homes.  Surrounded by farm land with either crops or animals,  lines full of drying clothes and driveways and barns featuring horses and buggies. A few of the homes had the women out mowing grass or watching small children.  No men seemed to be at home during the day.  We saw a few young men riding bicycles or buggies to town.

The town was small and had a few shops including a hardware store, clothing/sewing supply store, an auction house and a flea market type area.  There were also a couple of restaurants and bakeries.  Of course we had to stop at a bakery.  With homemade cinnamon buns that were bigger than my hand, I had to override my gluten allergy and try one.  They were delicious!

It was almost surreal for me to get to see and be around Amish people, it's something I have always wanted to experience.  It's like stepping back in time, or in to  movie.  Seeing people live in a way that completely bucks modern society and live by their own rules is something I had to see to believe.  There are many thoughts and theories on the Amish and whether or not the religion is really a "good" thing and whether the people are happy.  Of course I couldn't tell much from my short visit, but I do know that the ones I met in shops seemed just as happy and friendly as anyone else.

With my cinnamon bun and my Amish made potholder, I bought as a souvenir, we left Shipshewana and headed to Chicago.  My Amish experience is something I will never forget.

Photo Friday

We are in the middle of planning a getaway to this spot:

And my mind can't seem to concentrate on much else.

Road Trip
part 3

For the drive back east we decided to take a little different route than we had taken going west.

Since we were leaving from Phoenix we headed to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico,  to do a little cavern hiking.  Little did we know that the six hour drive would turn into an eight hour drive due to a wind storm, sand storm and torrential thunderstorm we encountered. Not the mention the border patrol point we had to make it through out in the middle of nowhere New Mexico.  With white knuckles we made it to the entrance to the park just around midnight and settled in to the only lodging in the area, an old motel.  Not exactly the best night of the trip, but since we had to be up early the next day to see the caverns and make it to our next stop, we were up early and on our way.

The caverns were an interesting experience.

You can enter through the walk in entrance or you can take an elevator straight down.  I tried to do the walk in entrance, but my claustrophobia took over and I had what you could call a minor panic attack.  So, Alan did the walk in while I waited at the elevator and gave it a try that way.

Once inside the view was amazing.

The formations are just spectacular and they were everywhere.

There are 117 known caves and they were all formed from sulfuric acid dissolving the surrounding limestone.

I was glad I visited the caverns, but I've never been so glad to see the light of day when I got back up!

From there we drove to Austin.  And again we had horrible weather.  Torrential rain, hail and flooding made the drive much longer than it needed to be and we wondered if we would actually make it to Austin for the night.  But we finally did, we got unloaded and headed to dinner.  Thanks to the weather many restaurants were closed, but we found a Thai place that was actually open, despite being half flooded.  We had been craving good Thai food since our return from Thailand and this place did not disappoint.

We enjoyed Austin.  Spent time wondering the downtown area, had our fill of breakfast tacos, visited with an old friend and enjoyed walking along the river.  Deciding we would definitely like to return for more time in Austin.

Thanks to horrible summer storms that were following us we decided to skip our next planned stop, New Orleans, and head for Atlanta. 

We spent our last night in Jackson, MS and then finally made the final drive into Atlanta. 

It was 16 days, 5000 miles, 12 states, 3 National Parks and 1 amazing trip we will never forget.

Road Trip 2012
part 2

After 5 days in Vegas we were more than ready to hit the road.  Over the weekend we took a road trip from Nevada into Utah and down to Arizona.

We spent a day and a half in Zion National Park. It is definitely one of the most beautiful places in the country.

We did lots of hiking.

Some of the trails were a little scary.

But worth it to get to beautiful spots.

We also did a little biking.  However after an accident left my tires looking like this:
We stayed off the bikes for a little while.

We absolutely loved Zion National park and will definitely be back one day.

From there we headed in to Arizona and spent a day in Sedona.  The scenery around Sedona is beautiful and the town itself was a lot of fun.  

On this trip I had two things I was dying to see.  One was a tumbleweed and the other was what I call a pitchfork cactus, yes I know that tall cacti are either Cordons or Saguaros.  I was disappointed that I never saw one on our trip out west last year, so I was determined to find one.  Alan kept telling me to just wait, I would see them in Arizona.  However we got all the way to Sedona and still nothing.  However, once we left Sedona and turned around the backside of the mountains, it was pitchfork cactus heaven.  I couldn't believe it, they were everywhere.  I was amazed and couldn't wait to get up close to one!

After Sedona we took a little side trip and headed up to the top of a mountain to find a town named Jerome.  We like to think it's after a Jerome we know, Alan's Grandad.

It's a really cute little town, that seems to be quite popular with traveling bikers.  We stayed just long enough to tour the downtown and get Grandad a namesake t-shirt.

Then we continued on our way.

 Our next stop was Phoenix.  We stayed here for four days.  Alan worked during the day, but in the evenings we took full advantage of the amazing outdoors to do some trail running and biking.

And I got to check out pitchfork cacti up close.

We also took advantage of the great breweries to try out local beer!

And before we knew it, it was time to pack up and start our drive east.