Archive for the ‘vacation’ Category

Exploring Oklahoma, episode 3

Last year, we missed our annual Spring Break Exploring Oklahoma trip. ūüė¶¬† But not this year…it’s just taking me a couple months to get the post up!¬† The first year we went to Woodward in the NW part of the state, then Davis in the mid-south part of the state.¬† So this year we headed SW to the Lawton area…Medicine Park to be exact.¬† The oldest cobblestone community in Oklahoma.¬† Pretty touristy and most of it was closed up for the season, but it was quiet and pretty, with lots to see nearby.


One of the high points (quite literally) was the scary, windy (as in super curvy)  drive up Mount Scott.  Not the highest point in Oklahoma, but part of the Wichita Mountains and very scenic.


The Parallel Forest isn’t actually on a map like I thought it would be.¬† Someone told me that it should be on our list of “must-see’s” when we visit that area, and given my love for trees, it was an obvious add to the schedule.¬† It proved a little more difficult to find than we expected, but we found it, and we were NOT disappointed.¬† The trees were planted (all 6 feet apart) in the early 1900’s¬† to provide fence posts for a project which was later scrapped.


If you google it, you’ll find that most of the info about the Parallel Forest comes from sites about the “hauntings” in the area.¬† Surprisingly, we found no such evidence.¬†¬† Although, we might have seen Bigfoot.

These lovely ladies enjoyed a long hike and some rock climbing and picture taking.


Cameron could’ve stayed ALL day.¬†¬† Shoes off, climbing all over the rocks, cool grass, beautiful little stream.¬† She took tons of pictures.


Meer’s Restaurant was another suggestion from a friend.¬† Best burger in Oklahoma is what they say.¬† and it WAS good.¬†¬† Really good.¬† It’s actually made from longhorn meat. (sorry Texas fans!)¬† The service was, ummm….not as good as the food.¬† It was as if they KNEW people would come because they had something special, so they didn’t have to be nice.¬† Eh, they are probably right.¬† It was darn yummy.


Spring Break was a rainy week this year.   I took this picture from the car as we were driving back into Edmond.


Despite the cooler temps and some soggy weather, it was a really good getaway!¬† Check that off of our list of “must-see’s” in Oklahoma!

Walk a Mile in our, um…Feet

This post is going to be told in pictures of feet.  Yep, pictures of feet.   Now let me say first off, that I do not have a foot fetish.  In fact, I neither love feet, nor hate them.    However, I did get a lovely pedicure before we left and so that might have fueled some of the foot photography desire.   Aaaaaannnd,  I have to admit, I was, no doubt, inspired by the beautiful cover of Salvaged, my new favorite book.

Did I mention here already that we went to the beach for vacation? ¬†Oh, yeah, I think I did. ¬†Here’s a brief run down of the highlights—or some of them anyway.

Clean, white sand. ¬†Like sugar. and very very clean. ¬†Apparently, the sand on Siesta Key is 99% quartz, giving it a white sugary appearance. ¬†Anyway, it was gorgeous. Kevin walked and walked the beach–early mornings, evenings… ¬†He could have stayed there all the time.

We rented kayaks one morning and went out for a 3 hour tour of Sarasota Bay and Turtle Beach.    It was our first time in kayaks (all of us) and other than being worn out, we did we really great!   We even drug two of the kayaks across Turtle Beach and into the Gulf and took turns paddling around in the waves.

These are Cory’s feet at Turtle Beach. ¬†The sand here was darker than on Siesta Key beaches….more cinnamon sugary. ¬†(and again sand sticks to everything wet) ¬† There were a lot more shells on this beach than the other, too.

Here’s that pedicure I was a-talkin’ about. ¬†I felt so pretty. ūüôā

Here’s Cameron’s feet walking on the beach. ¬†She also could have stayed there forever. ¬†She was fascinated by all of it. ¬†When I would watch her, sometimes she would just be scouring the beach with her eyes, looking for shells or other interesting things that came in from the ocean. ¬†When she was in the water, she was looking down, often with her goggles on, no doubt searching for fish, shells, and who know what else. And then sometimes, she would be scanning the horizon, probably looking for signs of dolphins or manatees. ¬† I would LOVE to hear what she’s thinking. ¬† ¬†She’s so thoughtful and introspective (are those the same thing?).

One of the coolest things we did was parasailing. ¬†It was extravagant and adventurous for us, but soooo worth it. ¬†A boat took us from the bay out to the Gulf and we were “launched” from that boat, sailed 1000 ft over the water, and then brought back down on that boat. ¬†We didn’t even get wet. ¬†The view from up high was amazing. ¬†You could see the whole island, plus animals in the water–we saw dolphins, shark, and stingray! ¬† I don’t have any pictures of just feet in the air, but here’s a shot that Cameron took of Pebbles the dog standing on my feet on the boat back from the Gulf. ¬†(Pebbles belonged to the boat driver)

What a summer it’s been and this was a great way to end it. ¬† With our kids getting older, we’re feeling the need to savor every moment!!

Beach vacation observations

Just a couple of observations from someone who is not a regular beach goer. ¬†Call me a novice. ¬†or a dabbler. ¬†Yeah, I’m a beach dabbler. ¬†I like that.

  • Getting sunburn on the first day of vacation is bad.¬† Continued sun exposure on sunburned skin is badder.
  • Not everyone is as concerned about their less than tight abs as I am. ¬† ¬†I don’t know if this is good or not, but it certainly reveals that I care waaaaay toooo much about my the size of my thighs, or the squishy spot between my chest and my shoulder. ¬† ¬†Apparently I think everyone is looking at and judging me. ¬†Yeah, I’m not self-absorbed.¬† at all.
  • I’m usually all for the less-is-more philosophy as it applies to packaging, words, sun exposure, etc., but as far as clothing on the beach is concerned, less is NOT more. ¬†Wow. ¬†O_o
  • A little sand is too much sand.¬† I was seriously excited to get home to Oklahoma where there wasn’t sand in and on everything.¬† Although I feel quite exfoliated, I also felt quite gritty for 7 straight days.
  • There really isn’t much that’s more relaxing than laying on a towel on the beach under a shade umbrella with no where to be and nothing to do.¬† Nowhere.¬† Nothing.
  • It feels perfectly legitimate to eat ice cream or drink iced mint mocha’s everyday on vacation.¬†¬† Not a darn thing wrong with that.
  • I love my family.¬†¬†¬† We’re perfect for each other.¬† ūüôā

I’ll try anything once

Well, maybe not anything.¬† For example, I won’t try octopus, caning, or base jumping..not even once.¬† never (and I don’t use that word lightly)

Recently, I’ve tried eating sauerkraut for the health of my small intestine (gross), running(thumbs up), acupressure (definitely works), and oil pulling(weird).¬†¬† I’m sure there are lots of other things I could mention here, but my memory is failing me–what else is new, right?¬† I’ve also eaten alligator.¬† Fried alligator.¬† Yuck.¬† Anyway,¬† my most recent foray into the strange and unusual alternative medicines, is the oil pulling.¬† It’s the practice of swishing oil around in your mouth for 20 minutes at a time to rid your body of toxins.¬† The whole time I was doing it, I kept thinking, “this doesn’t make any sense”.¬†¬† But I googled it, and everything I read, led me to think it was worth a try.¬† It can cure everything from headaches and acne to arthritis and cancer.¬† (yeah, right!)¬† I’ll try it for a couple of weeks and let you know if anything comes of it.¬† I know you’ll be anxious to hear the full report. ha.

Blog? What blog?

oh my gosh.¬† I almost forgot that I had a blog with my very own name on it.¬†¬† It feels like years since I’ve been up in here.

Everything¬† that’s happened and everything I’ve done in the past few months could easily have it’s own dedicated post, but that itn’t gonna happen anytime soon….so rather that losing everything (to my faulty memory), I’m just going to hit the highlights! (and there were lots of them!)

**Warning:¬† this post may be filled with sentence fragments.¬† fragmented sentences.¬† apparently that’s how my brain is currently functioning.

  • Series finale of LOST–good.¬† glad it’s over.
  • my first 5K–good. glad it’s over.¬†¬† No, just kidding.¬† I had a good time, felt great about my accomplishment, and definitely want to run another one. soon.¬†¬†¬† I’m still running to improve my 5K pace, but have no plans to ever do more than 3 or so miles at a time.
  • Reading…Eragon, and it’s sequels.¬† The kids both read these books and they wanted me to read them too.¬† I like to read what they are reading so we can talk about it.¬†¬† Especially if it’s something they particularly enjoyed.¬†¬† Cuz you know how if you read a really good book, you want to talk about it?…so do they, and I want to share some of those moments with them.¬† In this case, though, these are VERRRY long books, so it’s taking me a while to get through all 3 of them.
  • A quick trip to Colorado to attend a fantabulous birthday party for 2 really cute 3 year olds.¬† It’s always great to see my sister and Chris and see what Daniel and Elizabeth are up to!¬† They are so sweet!
  • Also reading…Salvaged by Stefne Miller from my very own Edmond, OK.¬† Such a good book, written by a local author, set in my general neck of the woods.¬† This one is a MUST read for all girls.¬† It’s a beautiful love story about avoiding temptation, staying pure, being completely honest and transparent about feelings, seeking Jesus, hurting and healing.¬† and more.¬† I loved the characters. It was way good.
  • Fireworks sales in Louisiana.¬† oh, snap, I don’t even know where to start on this one. Working three 12-13 hour days, friends, family, hanging out, playing cards, staying up late, getting up early, eating junk food, $74,000 in sales, dirty fireworks¬† Cajun rednecks.¬† Good times.
  • My new favorite guy–the chiropractor. Love that guy.¬† I can sit in a car, at my desk, in a movie theater, you name it, for hours without my butt/leg hurting!¬†¬† and to think that I lived with that for 9 months before trying to get it taken care of…what a dummy I am.¬†¬† I still don’t have full range of motion with that leg/muscle/joint, but it’s improving slowly.¬† Aren’t you glad to know that!?¬† Don’t answer that.

and the Grandpa Nellie Grand Finale…is still to come!¬† Florida vacation right around the corner!

Wait…What Just Happened?!

I’m not really sure how it happened, but we’re going to Florida on a gen-u-ine family vacation this summer.¬† No family there…just going for fun.¬† and NO we’re not going to Walt Disney World–at least I don’t think so… and we won’t if I have anything to do about it!¬† But that’s kinda the problem here…

This self-confessed, card-carrying control freak just let 1/2 of the family plan a vacation…with very little input from me.¬† Oh, I was asked my opinion…and I think I supplied it (at least I know I said “Please not WDW”), but it was like a runaway train…once it got started, it was impossible to stop.¬†¬† Cory said he wants to be surprised when we get there, which is really just his way of saying “I don’t care to be involved in the sometimes-excruciating decision making process”).¬† I decided to join him in that philosophy.

“Sometimes-excruciating” because SOMEONE has to research EVERY SINGLE POSSIBLE option before they make a decision about where to stay.¬† and then you throw in the 2nd member of that “team”, Kevina, Jr., and she gets her heart set on the PERFECT spot and nothing else will do.¬† Truth be told, I’m very thankful for his “thoroughness” in research, and I’m¬† \thankful, too, that he mostly leaves me out of it.¬† I know he’ll find the very best place, for the very best price.¬† Weighing all the options, considering all the possibilities.¬† Good thing, too, because I do NOT have the patience for all that.

You see, Kevin has history in this particular place…in that he lived there for a few years…maybe 5ish?¬† I can’t remember. But apparently, Sarasota, Florida¬† is the 2nd happiest place on earth (after you know where ūüôā )¬† .¬† Actually, I’ve been there already, so I should know, right?¬† I wonder who took me there??¬† Oh wait, it was Kevin.¬† Of course.¬† ūüôā

No really, they do have gorgeous beaches on the Gulf of Mexico.¬† Very clean white sand.¬† Like sugar.¬† Very pretty.¬† If you Google “best beaches in US” Siesta Key, FL comes in 2nd–right behind a beach in Hawaii!!

But, the beach?¬† Really?¬† I’m 40…and soft and squishy all over.¬† *whimper, whimper* .¬† We leave in 15 weeks and 2 days.¬†¬†¬† Perhaps if I get busy and lose a pound and a half a week for the next 15 weeks, I’ll feel a little better about beaching it for several days–and possibly getting photographed while near the beach–in the sunshine.¬† Oh, dear.

and in case you were wondering, NO, we are not driving.¬† I just can’t. won’t. whatever.¬† So we’re flying!¬† First time in 12 years and the kids are pumped!!¬† Wow, I don’t know why we don’t just take a vacation to the airport–I think the kids would be just as excited about that…maybe not.

2nd Annual Spring Break Exploring Oklahoma

Some trips are better conveyed through pictures. ¬†This is one of them…especially because Cameron takes such good pictures. ¬†and she took over 250 over these 2 days. ¬† I’ve narrowed it down…just slightly.

So, this year for our Spring Break Oklahoma Tour we headed south along I-35 to Davis, Oklahoma with the Quintons and their 2 girls.   Turner Falls, natural springs, Arbuckle Wilderness, and the fascinating city of Davis were stops along the way.

First stop, Chickasaw National Recreational Area. ¬†Lovely park, natural springs, a wildlife information center…although I think we must have missed some of it, because it looked really big on the map.

We sat at the natural spring after nearly a mile hike and just enjoyed nature. ¬† Cory’s there with all the girls, wishing we had friends with boys, too.

We found this lovely picnic area with a river running through it. ¬†We devoured the chips, sandwiches, cookies, etc. that we packed for lunch and the kiddos couldn’t resist wading in the water. ¬† There were actually people swimming in the river–in March!

After the picnic, I think we saved room for fried pies at the Original Fried Pie place in Davis.  Yum!

It was a busy place—both days we went!

Now that it’s finally warmed up, we needed to spend a little more time outdoors–on to Turner Falls, the largest waterfall in Oklahoma. ¬†Here’s one of 2 natural swimming pools. ¬† ¬†Again, people swimming in March. ¬†We never dreamed. ¬†We saved our swimming for the indoor, heated pool at the Inn at Treasure Valley!

The castle at Turner Falls, built by some dude in the 1930’s. Really cool…long walk up though.

The castle was really neat.  Very historical, huh, Dustin?

But the view from the very top, above the castle, was amazing.

After walking around the area for a little while (we had to get our $3.50/person admission’s worth of site seeing in!), we headed on back to the Inn at Treasure Valley. ¬†Never mind that it was a casino Microtel, it sounded nice…and it was nice. ¬†Very clean, quiet, with a heated, indoor pool, hot tub, and dry sauna. ¬†No pictures here, you’ll have to use your imagination.

The next morning, we ventured out to Arbuckle Wilderness. ¬†Some of us hadn’t been since we were kids, and some had NEVER been! ¬†What?! I know it’s crazy. ¬† The price to get in was a little steep, but we did get to see lots of animals up close and personal…some of them too close! ¬†Hello, Mr. Zebra!

This guy had some really cool horns…and hair.

I could go on and on with pictures of the animals.

Oh…wait…here’s more. ¬†Here I’m feeding a llama named Dottie.

Be thankful I saved you the video of the big deer looking thing pooping.  It was a little too graphic and this is a family blog.

Dustin needed more historical sites, and surprisingly enough, there just isn’t a lot of interesting historical landmarks in that part of the state. ¬†At least, none that have been exploited for tourists and monetary gain…so we had to settle for Junk City, USA. ¬†It was loaded with personal history from the locals.

Oh, my, the assortment of trash. ¬†So much trash. ¬†I really had my heart set on the KFC bucket, but the bulb inside was burned out. ūüė¶

I couldn’t hardly get Kevin to leave Alf and George Jones behind. ¬†I practically had to drag him out of the store. ūüôā

There were rotary phones, old dolls, an alligator purse (with an actual alligator head and feet on it–3D of course), Atari game systems, a 6 foot tall armadillo made from styrofoam, and mountains of other junk.

Bye, Junk City. ¬†and good riddance. ¬† There’s a big record-threatening snow storm coming to the state tomorrow, so it’s time to head back north. ¬†It’s dinner time, and we’re passing through Norman, OK…what to do…where to go…The Service Station, of course! ¬†Me and Kevin share this place with anyone and everyone that will accompany us. ¬†This was the spot where we went on our very first date, waaaaaay back in 1987.

Great burgers and dip sticks, I mean french fries. ¬†The O rings are yummy too. ¬†Yes, all the food is named after cars or car parts. ¬†But it’s delish. ¬† Ask this young man who’s trying to conceal his identity.

Thanks for joining me on our re-trip to Davis, Oklahoma! ¬†Re-trip? ¬†apparently I enjoy making up words after midnight. ¬†Anyway, thanks for playing along. ¬†Any suggestions for next spring break’s Explore Oklahoma trip?

Black Friday with a twist

The day after Thanksgiving, aka Black Friday, is not a shopping day for the Kelleys. ¬†We have other things in mind. ¬†Starting with breakfast-which we wait for a reasonable hour for–at our favorite place, Chick-Fil-a. ¬†And since it’s been a while since I’ve posted any pictures, I thought I tell this story mostly with pics.

These little beauties are the highlight of breakfast. ¬†My mouth is watering just looking at the picture. mmm…Chickn Mini’s.

The winner of our annual best worst Christmas ornament is….whatever this is.

Honorable mention for best worst Christmas ornament goes tooo….the hideously malformed ginger bread…uh…boy.

At this point in the day, we took a break and went back home to see Daniel and Elizabeth, my nephew and niece, since they were visiting from Colorado. ¬†Chronologically, this picture doesn’t fit, but it’s representative of them and their visit, so, shush. ¬†Aren’t they cute?!

A little while later we headed to Bricktown for some more silliness. ¬†and dinner. ¬†and lights. ¬†The water taxi is free, starting that day through New Years, and you’d a-thought they was givin’ away dollar bills for all the people lined up to take a ride.

So, we skipped the water taxi and just took a walk along the canal.  Apparently, they lit the Christmas tree while we were there, but we managed to miss it somehow.

So, there.  That marked the beginning of a Christmas season made up of very little shopping, very little stress, and some just plain old fun for the sake of making memories.

Oklahoma is MORE than OK!

Spring Break took us on a whirlwind tour of northwest Oklahoma–but certainly not in a rushed feeling way!¬†¬† My favorite type of road trip is one where you see more road kill than cars on the road, so making our way from the “big city” up to the northwest part of the state was a VERY pleasant drive. ¬†And there’s nothing better than small town America.

And what did we find when we got there? Sand Dunes, Caves, Mountains, Springs, and Salt Plains!¬† All very distinct and ¬†different!¬† Apparently there used to be a sea in Oklahoma a couple of years ago and when it dried up, it left behind some very interesting geological phenomenon.¬† I am by no means an expert, so please don’t go fact-checkin’ any details I might include in this post.¬† I’m just saying what I remember–it may or may not be embellished by my vivid imagination. ūüôā ¬†I’ll try to ground it with photos…

Sand dunes—Acres of sand dunes that appear to be great fun if you have a ATV or a dune buggy! ¬†You can’t imagine the sub-culture that exists here. ¬† Dune “enthusiasts” geared up, camping in tents, gathered together drinking beer and sharing community–it was beautiful! ¬†and so were the dunes–lots of really big sand piles…very cool.

Little Sarah sand dunes

Little Sahara State Park

Salt Plains–This was an interesting sight. ¬†This photo doesn’t quite capture the vastness of the salt plains. ¬†From a distance, it looked a lot like water, especially when the sun shone on the salt. ¬†Unfortunately, the area where you can dig for special crystals is closed right now…but we still enjoyed our venture here. ¬†Except for the cold, relentless wind, and the curious lack of height at the Observation Tower. ¬†And, yes, the ground does taste salty. ¬†Yes, we licked the ground. ¬†We’re just¬†weird¬†and curious like that. and¬†apparently¬†not proud.

salt plains

Great Salt Plains State Park

Where we lodged—Loved this place! ¬†We stayed ¬†here just for a night, but certainly could have stayed longer. ¬†It was not your average hotel/motel experience. ¬†This sitting area in the pool area was one of my favorite things. ¬†See?! ¬†Look how relaxed I look!

Relaxing sitting areas

The Northwest Inn in Woodward, OK

The pool was heated, clean and the kids had a great time here, and the grown-ups found it relaxing.

Northwest Inn

I didn’t have a great picture of the Gloss Mountains, aka Glass Mountains, so here’s a pic of me and Toni-Tone-Tone, aka Tonique. ¬†The mountain is full of selenite crystals, which apparently sparkle in the sun, but it was fairly cloudy when we were there, so there wasn’t a lot of sparkle—except from me and T after we climbed that treacherous mountain. ¬†Oh yeah, we’re quite the athletes.¬†¬† I don’t know why Toni looks so composed and I look so…um…windblown.

Glass/Gloss Mountains

The Glass/Gloss Mountains

For some peculiar reason, all of the public bathrooms in this area are referred to as “comfort stations”.¬† While I am usually more comfortable after I’ve visited one, I don’t always find them comforting at the time. hmmm…

Comfort Station

Comfort Station

Boiling Springs State Park

…or “spring” because we only saw one.¬† But it DID look like it was boiling–although it was “showcased” by ugly stained concrete (I guess so we could find it easy–I’m absolutely sure that is NOT how the original settlers found the springs, though).¬† The wooded area around the spring is probably quite beautiful in the summer despite the fact that it looks like it’s recently been devastated by an ice storm.¬† Check out this gynormous tree that’s fallen.¬† The arboreal carnage was heart-breaking. And look, there’s a handsome teenager posing next to the tree but the pic is too small to see him very well, so you’ll have to trust me.

tree in Boiling Springs

Alabaster Caverns

The guided tour of the cave was one of my favorite stops, but I don’t have any good pics of the cave (it was kinda dark and not very conducive to photography).¬† But, I did post some interesting cave facts here already.¬† Loved the cave–very fascinating!

So, where to next?…there’s lots more Oklahoma to see!

To Give or Save…Water is Life

When we did our No Spend Challenge in February, there was some talk about what we would do with the money that we didn’t spend.¬† Would we save it all?¬† Give it away?¬† A little of both?¬† We had a family meeting and discussed it. (well, Kevin and I discussed whilest the young ‘uns listened–or didn’t listen, whatever)

We decided to wait until the end of March and donate a percentage of what we’d saved up to that point.¬† We’re getting close to the end of March and I’m working VERY hard to get as much in that savings account as possible before the 31st!¬†¬† The charity that we chose was WaterIsLife, which I think is an Edmond based biz, but I can’t confirm this. They distribute these really cool filter “straws” that hang around a kids neck and allows them to safely drink water from any source that is available to them.¬† Really cool!

Anyway, when we were vacationing this last week, we went to Alabaster Caverns in northwestern OK and took the guided tour of the cave.  Our guide explained that the life cycle of a cave is centered around WATER!  When water seeps into cracks in the ground, the cave is birthed.  As water fills the cracks and starts to flow, the cave is formed.  Water recedes, and you can go in.  Eventually it will completely dry up and then crumble, collapse and become a canyon. (Every cave will eventually become a canyon!)    So, in a very real sense, Water is Life for a cave too.  I thought that was really cool, especially with this charity so fresh on my mind!

Cool facts you won’t find anywhere else.¬† You’re welcome.