For our 6th annual trip with the Maurer family, we spent the weekend in Kansas City. We are nearing (if we haven’t already reached it) the point when we will need to do some repeat locations, but this year was a new spot for us again. We all enjoy spending time together and it’s been such a special treat to watch our children grow up together.
We usually spend a fair amount of time at the hotel just talking and playing. We also all like parks and legos, so we fit in both of those activities this year. A hike is often on all of our lists to do, but it was way too hot to spend much time outside that weekend. We spent Friday night grabbing dinner out and playing at the hotel, Saturday out and about and Sunday back at the hotel before going our separate ways.
Here are some shots from around the hotel, including a few selfies the kids took (as requested) from their explorations around the hotel on their own. Favorite memories include watching various plays of Piggie and Gerald books, watching all the kids try to catch the football with their elbows, sending messages/emojis/pictures with Ellie (mostly Mike and Ellie/Adam), and how sweet those girls are to my boys who want to show them their paint-by-sticker books and Legos. Lots and lots of laughter!
Mute the video if you don’t want to hear my crazy loud laugh:
Pics from our dinners out:
Pics from the park, Legoland and the Sea Life Aquarium:
All too soon it was time to say goodbye. The kids hugged too quickly, so we missed any cute pics of that…but I snapped a couple of Mikey saying goodbye to some of his favorite girls! We parents left exhausted, having stayed up until midnight or WAY later both evenings we had together. We sure enjoyed spending time with this crew again!
Quick throwback of our group from just last summer and a link to all the previous years:
We had the fun opportunity to see two of the boys’ grandparents recently. Grandma Cleve came out for a long weekend (she split her time, as usual, between us and Ashley/Zach/Caleb’s home) and then we stayed at Grandpa Russ’ home for a few days before our annual trip with Cass and Adam’s family. What a treat!
We made a few attempts at a picture of Grandma Cleve with all of her grandsons (one more grandson to be added around Christmas!!) after having a yummy breakfast all together. And then we just spent time together at our home enjoying each other’s company! Mike and Grandma Cleve stopped in to have dinner with Great Aunt Terry on their way to the airport. We’re already looking forward to her next trip in October!
A couple days after saying goodbye to her, we got to say hello to Grandpa Russ and stay at his home for a bit. We especially enjoy visiting him in the summer –> pool, ping pong, dogs = so much fun! And I always take home a new idea for a crockpot meal!! It was wonderful to see Grandpa Russ (and Duke and Calvin) again!
We sure enjoy our time with our parents/grandparents!
By Saturday morning, we were ready to leave Yosemite. The crowds really increased by then! We drove about 6 hours to get to Lake Tahoe, although I think there may have been a shorter route. In fact, we had told the boys that it would be about 3.5 hours. Here’s how you know your kiddos like road trips…they didn’t even notice that we nearly doubled the trip. They were more concerned with whether or not we’d finish another book before we arrived. =) So much fun!
Anyway, Lake Tahoe is gorgeous. We absolutely loved seeing mountains and a huge lake together. It was a good mix of the two things Mikey and I love the most in our landscapes – water and mountains. We celebrated our 12-year anniversary here with some tasty sushi and lots of time on the water.
One day all three guys spent many hours on our stand-up paddle board. I spent most of that time reading “The Help” – a book I’ve been wanting to read for a while now and happened to be at the airbnb where we stayed. They LOVED it!
The following day we spent the day on a motor boat. We saw some marked differences in the boys – Ethan likes to take it slow and steady; Micah wants to go as fast as possible. Both boys enjoyed driving the boat, under great supervision from Mikey. They both attempted to go tubing, but ended up in the water before even getting a ride. We lost one Dodger hat to the water and almost lost the other one. All in all, though, we had a super lovely day. Ethan later decided he not only has a fear of heights, he has a fear of depths (this has a technical name: thalassophobia). The deep water of Lake Tahoe was enough to give some bad dreams, but we all still look back on this part of the trip with a lot of fondness! We’d LOVE to go back again sometime!
And just when we started missing home, it was time to head that way. We took two days to drive home – stopping in Salt Lake City for the overnight. We enjoyed seeing one of the Olympic parks the following morning and then were thrilled to get back home again.
The fabulous road trip of Summer 2018 was a great success!!
After Sequoia and Kings Canyon, we headed to Fresno as a staging time before we camped for 3 nights in Yosemite. The boys enjoyed playing Legos and going shopping for some of the last minute purchases we needed to make.
Then on Wednesday morning we headed to Yosemite. It’s absolutely breath-taking. It was much busier than Sequoia, but the crowds didn’t overwhelm us until we saw what the weekends were like, so by Saturday morning, we were ready to head out. =) The tunnel view – the first view of the valley – was stunning.
Highlights here included:
Camping and having s’mores every night,
hiking to Sentinel Dome (seriously, we highly recommend this! It’s the second highest spot in the valley and the views are spectacular and it’s not too busy),
ice cream at Glacier Point,
biking through the valley (would highly recommend this, too, but wished we had our own bikes),
various little hikes to see beautiful spots in Yosemite,
and rafting down the river (also, have some grace, this was after 3 nights of camping and no showers…. :P).
Yosemite was lovely. We will definitely return some day!!
On Sunday afternoon, we said our goodbyes and headed to Sequoia National Park until Wednesday. This part of the world is so beautiful and unlike any other place we’ve been. We were in awe of the huge trees and enjoyed some lovely hikes in the area. Pictures tell more about the experience than words can, but pictures do not do it justice.
Moro Rock Trail was incredible. Some of us went further on the hike than others of us, thus more pictures of said somebodies. =)
Here are some more shots from Sequoia, including a super lovely hike we did to a waterfall.
Before moving onward to Yosemite, we explored a bit of Kings Canyon National Park. You really can’t grasp how large these trees are unless you walk among them. They are so out-of-this-world.
We especially enjoyed the views, teeny hike and snack at Panoramic Point:
Up Next: After Kings Canyon, we headed to Fresno to prepare for our camping adventure in Yosemite.
Aunt Ticia (Grandpa Russ’ sister) organized the Cleveland Reunion and hosted us graciously for the weekend. We stayed with Mike’s Dad and siblings (and their families) at a hotel near her home, but spent most of our days and evenings at her home for food, fellowship and lots of pool time! It was so much fun! The boys absolutely loved getting to know their cousins (technically second cousins once removed or something?! I can’t remember the term) and playing in the pool. And I met some people I had never met before, too, so that was a treat!!
Some of the boys enjoyed giving performances on their various instruments. E played a few songs on the piano and T played some on the saxophone. It was fun to allow them all to do a little showing off for us. =) E also was making up some songs with AJ, who plays the guitar.
And we took a few posed pictures of various groups:
We were so glad to join in on the fun this weekend. It was great! Thanks, Aunt Ticia, for organizing and hosting us all. We sure loved being with you again!!
I LOVE road trips. I just do. So when we learned about the Cleveland reunion happening in southern California, it’s not surprising that I suggested we drive to it. But, of course, to drive to California is no small feat. We decided to expand that trip into a longer vacation to see Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon, Yosemite and Lake Tahoe. As usual, Mike did an excellent job charting out our trip. (Honestly, if he didn’t love his job so much I’d encourage him to be a travel guide of some sort – building awesome trips for people! He’s got serious talent!)
One of the things I love most about road trips is listening to audiobooks with the boys. It’s an added bonus when Mike listens, too. Thankfully, this is something the boys love, too. In fact, every time we hopped in the car the request was made, “can we start our book now?” even throughout the trip when we would just have a 5 minute drive somewhere, they always asked. =) I’ll include the list of books we finished when I get to the end of the trip posts – stay tuned.
Mike worked for part of the trip, mostly on the longer driving days, which worked out well because then I drive and we listen to audiobooks while he uses noise-cancelling headphones and works away…and occasionally takes a little nap. I gave Ethan my phone to snap a couple of pictures on the road, but mostly he used his own camera to take pictures of the changing landscape.
We often make a stop at Subway along the way. This always makes me think of my Grandpa. We did a lot of traveling with my grandparents growing up and I was always on the lookout for Subway because it was my favorite restaurant as a kid. =) He would joke that if there was a Subway on our route, I would surely spot it for us!
We stayed the night in Las Vegas (that was my first…and maybe last??…time there – way too hot and way too *insert big eyes here*! I did see a Barry Manilow billboard which made me laugh right out thinking about Jennie’s a-mazing impressions of him) before finishing the drive to the LA area for the reunion. We stopped at one of our favorite places for breakfast/lunch on the drive and then we were ready for some family time!