Tag-Archive for » family travel «

“Step”ping into Parenting…

I turned 19 on June 8, 1995.  I had my life set out.  I had finished my first year of college and was headed home to my parent’s house to work for the summer and save up some money.  I took a full time job waitressing in the small hotel that was near our house and planned to work as many hours as possible.  I had zero intention of meeting anyone, I knew I was moving 2 hours away at the end of summer. 

A month into summer holidays, a family friend approached me about taking over her secretarial position for 2 weeks so she could go on vacation.  I jumped at the chance and quickly gave my notice at the hotel.  Answering phones and typing seemed much more pleasant to me than serving breakfast at 6 a.m.  I soon started work at the nearby oil and gas plant doing whatever secretarial stuff she had left for me.  I was the only female in a completely male dominated office.  Luckily it was a small town and I knew most of the guys who worked there.  I remember being excited on my last day there…finally back to school for me.  I had about 4 days and then I was moving to get started back on my college courses. 

And that was the day I met Richard.  He worked as an operator at the plant.  Now if we want to discuss how some things are meant to be….here is one.  Richard had 2 weeks of holidays but because he had used one day earlier, he only had 1 week and 6 days…which ended him right back to work on the last day of my work.  I knew exactly who he was when I saw him…I had gone to school with two of his brothers.  Luckily I knew how to turn on the magic cause by the end of the day, I had a plan for a small group of us to go out that night.   The nice thing for him was that I already knew all about him…news travels fast in small towns!  I was drawn to him instantly and truthfully was not thinking at all into the future.  Can you imagine at 19 thinking about getting together with a 24 year old on his way to divorce with 2 babies at home?  I guess maybe my age was a good thing…I was naive enough not to worry about stepping into the world of parenting.

To Be Continued…..

Cheap car rentals…

Family travel can get expensive with hotel, meals and car rentals, so it makes sense to save money where ever you can.  Here is a money saving tip anyone can take advantage of to save a few dollars when renting a car.

I tend to use Priceline for most of my travel bookings, but I have found that often you can get a better deal on car rentals using Hotwire.com.  I usually check the price listed on Hotwire and then go to Priceline and bid a few dollars lower and see what happens.  If my bid is rejected on Priceline I will book the car using Hotwire.

Click the link below for a quick video demonstrating how it’s done.

Video too small? Click Here

Christmas in Las Vegas Baby!

My husband’s family consists of 4 brothers, their wives and 10 kids.  His Mom passed away in May of 2000 and his Dad passed away in September of 2004.  Christmas always meant alot to our families, but after both his parents passed away, we wanted to make sure that we were always close.  People are amazed when they hear that we have monthly get togethers with Richard’s family…it is important.  Always remember that family is what is most important and they won’t always be around.  Richard may have been 34 by the time both his parents were gone, but I know that there are many times when he wishes he could call up his mom to tell her something great…or ask his Dad how to build something…or give his Mom one more pair of earrings for her birthday cause he couldn’t think of one single thing she needed.  And she loved it…every year…Beth didn’t care what she got because it meant the world to her coming from one of her boys!  They both loved hosting, they loved travel and they loved Christmas…so we thought we would do them proud and head out of town for Christmas…all 18 of us together!

Since 2004, we have been alternating between his family and in-laws.  It seems to be working great so far.  Right after Christmas of 2008, we started making plans to go somewhere warm for Christmas of 2009.  I like to be on the computer…in case you hadn’t noticed…so I took over finding us somewhere to stay!    Being the adventerous sort I am, I set out to find ONE house that would fit us all.  Who wants to spend Christmas Day all bunched up in a couple of hotel rooms…boring!

Why Las Vegas?  Why not Florida or Hawaii?  Well, two of my brother-in-laws run a business together and it is hard for them to get away for a long time together, so Vegas seemed perfect.  Close to fly to, stay and play for a few days and then come home.  I used vrbo.com to look for a house and because Richard and I had been there a few times already, we somewhat knew what areas we liked.  You guys are probably thinking it was hard to find a house that fit 18 people….but it wasn’t.  There are a ton of rental homes on vrbo.com that allow for up to 25 people.  And alot of those people own two houses side by side so you could rent enough space for 50 people!  It is amazing!!  I emailed a ton of houses, found availability for the dates we wanted and waited.  After receiving a ton of emails back, I sorted through them, found the perfect house and booked it.  The great thing was we had all this square footage, our own pool and hottub and we would all be together.  The cost was approximately $450 per family for the house plus any groceries which we split 4 ways.  And using Allegiant airlines we paid a fraction of the costs for the flight. 

Ok, so what did we do when we got there??  Well we kind of all did our own special things, one family went to see the Blue Man Group (very loud…but good) others went outlet shopping (they were very happy).  Let me stop there….let me tell you about my sister-in-law.  We gave her a hard time….she mapped out the malls.  I am not joking…she literally had maps, a pen and a highlighter to map her route and what stores she had to hit.  You know who you are…and we love you!!  Anyway, Christmas Eve we wanted to do something special as a family so we rented a huge limo and had them take us around and down to Freemont Street.  The kids loved it!!  Of course they had a live band, big Christmas tree and the popular light show.  It was wonderful!

Christmas Day we spent at the house eating big meals and….swimming!!  That’s right…swimming in our own private outdoor pool! 

I think I can speak for all of us when I say we all had a super time!  It was nice to get away from the snow and just enjoy each others company!  Hoping to get away Christmas of 2011 with my side of the family!  Keep you posted on that one!

What I am craving…

We need to talk about something!  That’s right…we do.   I am craving the Melting Pot!  Have you been to one?  If you haven’t, you should!  I have been to The Melting Pot in Irvine, CA twice now.  The first time was a girls trip with my sister-in-laws and the second time I took Richard for his 40th birthday!  It is a glorious place.

It is considered a romantic, fine dining fondue restaurant…and it is!  Reservations are definitely recommended as it does take you quite some time to eat.  Both times I went we got a four course meal…starts with your choice of cheese fondue with bread and veggies to dip.  You then move into the salad course…excellent!  The Ceasar salad is to die for!  Then onto the main course with either a broth fondue or oil.  Then you select your entree choices…we had one with chicken, tuna, lobster, beef tenderloin, and pork with a Coq au Vin broth….so so delicious!  Then onto dessert!  Oh, I know, yum!  We had the turtle chocolate fondue with cheesecake, pound cake, strawberries, brownies and rice krispies to dip.  My goodness…it is a good thing that I do not live close to one of these restaurants!! 

I highly highly recommend this restaurant if you ever get a chance.  And to make it super easy for you, most of them accept reservations online as well!  Go…I command you…Go and Enjoy!!

Sedona, Arizona

 

Last May, my sister and I decided to plan a trip to Sedona, Arizona.  We wanted to get our parents to actually get themselves on a plane and experience some travel.  The reason we picked Arizona is that we have an uncle that lives in Winslow and we hadn’t seen him in over 19 years.  We wanted my Dad to see his brother while he was still young!  So we convinced them to come and started planning. 

We flew into Phoenix and rented a car to drive to Sedona where we stayed.  We were looking to do the trip for the most affordable we could.  We got rooms at Kokopelli Suites in Sedona.  The front desk staff was very accomadating and friendly, making sure to suggest great places to eat and tourist attractions to see.  The rooms were nice, very clean.  We were only down for 3 nights so we had to act quickly to get all our sight seeing in!  There are so many more things we could have done there.

Our first day…we flew down this day and had the afternoon to wander around, find our hotel, pick out somewhere nice to eat.  It was kind of a relaxed day which was nice. 

The second day…this is the day we planned to meet up with my Aunt and Uncle in Flagstaff.  They chose a restaurant that was one of their favorites and we met them there.  After 19 years, there was no mistaking who he was when he got out of his Dodge truck (same as my Dad drives) and walked (the same as my Dad) over to us.  Seriously people, the similarities were endless.  The walk, the cowboy boots, the same jeans, the voice, the laugh…we all just sat back and watched my Dad and his brother.  We had a wonderful lunch and with pictures taken and goodbyes said, we headed on our way.  Richard and I had seen the Grand Canyon before, and I am so glad that my sister was anxious to see it and we convinced everyone else to go.  We headed out of Flagstaff and headed to the south rim of the Grand Canyon.  After about 1.5 hours we were there and it truly is majestic.

Day 3….definitely our busiest day.  Gwenn went with one goal…to see the McDonalds in Sedona.  The reason?  It is the only McDonalds ever that does not have the signature yellow colored M.  The town told McDonalds that they could build as long as the arches were Desert Teal as to not clash with the surrounding red rock of the area.  So we went, we took pictures, and now she can say she has been there!! 

We then travelled just outside of town to see a church.  Not just any old church…this church was beautiful and built into the side of a wall of red rock!  It was called the Chapel of the Holy Cross.  The idea of the church came from a lady named Marguerite Bruswig Staude who was from New York.  While travelling in the Sedona area she loved it and decided a chapel would be perfect there.  It was finished in 1956 and has been there ever since.

We managed to fit in some souvenir shopping as well and then that night…the sushi restaurant.  So nice to check out things the adults like when the kids do not come on the trip!  If the kids would have been there, no sushi restaurant!  So we went and ate way too much.  But it was delicious!!

Day 4…the day we pack up and head for home.  We left lots of time to drive back to Phoenix to catch our flights home.  On the way, we stopped to photograph everyone with the Seguaro cactus.  I say, if you are going to be a tourist…act like a tourist!!  Pictures of everything!

We all had such a great time.  I hope that it will be easier next time to convince my parents that it is a good idea!

No escaping winter this trip…

All my hopes of the weather man being wrong about the weather in Tulsa have been dashed.  The big news in Oklahoma today is the Blizzard of 2011.  From my point of view, it reminds me of home.  The snow is coming down pretty good and it is blowing hard.  I wasn’t sure if they had snow plows this far south, but indeed they do.   The forecast is for 12 inches of snow today.  The good news is that there was a free continental breakfast at the hotel because the cooks didn’t show up. 

Here is a view from our hotel room.  We are staying at the Holiday Inn and Suites in South Tulsa.

Richard

Flying to Tulsa, OK…

I am in Tulsa on a training course with my brother, Gerald.  I have been looking forward to this trip for some time.  I was especially looking forward to escaping winter, if only for a week.  Late last week Tanya asked me if I had checked the weather in Tulsa.  To my horror the forecast was calling for snow.  Not impressed.  The weather man is always wrong right?  I’m sure the forecast will change…. 

Well Sunday rolled around and we were off to Tulsa.  We flew Continental Airlines from Calgary, AB to Houston, TX for our connection and had 15 minutes to get to our next flight.  We ran the 1/4 mile in record time I’m sure.  We made it onto our plane and they closed the door behind us.  As we landed in Tulsa I thought to myself “How could our luggage possibly make it onto our plane?  I mean we barely made it.”  Sure enough, our luggage did not make it, however the gentleman at the Continental Airlines counter was extremely helpful and found our luggage was on the next flight in.  He assured us they would send a taxi to our hotel with it.  Currently it is 11:30pm here.  I just spoke to the front desk at our hotel and found out our luggage is on its way over.  As a customer I understand that things go wrong, but it is how they deal with those challenges that will make me a return customer and the service we received from Continental Airlines was excellent on this flight.

As far as the snow fall goes.  Our next stop after the baggage claim was the car rental desk and they gave us the bad news.  Apparently Tulsa is expecting ice storms and up to 15 inches of snow this week.  Good thing I brought my winter jacket.

Richard

Winter…

As I sit in my office staring out my office window, I wonder how we could possibly get any more snow.  It is like a complete repeat of our weather a couple of weeks ago.  The roads are drifted with snow…I feel sorry for our snowplow drivers.  They are putting in some major hours.  One can only hope that they feel appreciated for keeping us all safe. 

We were blessed with a few warmer days last week and we took advantage of it!  The kids had no school Thursday and Friday so Cody and I went outside to build some snowmen! 

This is his snowman that he built to pump his sister’s gas into her car.  His Dad and him also built a big sledding hill with the tractor, so while it was nice we tried that out too!!

Now it is cold again and we are back inside.  :(   I told my sister today that I would rather be sitting on a beach with a suit full of sand than sitting inside watching the snow fall around me.  Come on summer!!

Close to home…

I love to travel outside of Canada but we do have many marvels right in our own backyard.  Just 30 minutes from our house is an area of the badlands that is called Dinosaur Provincial Park.  It was named this because in a century of looking, over 150 complete dinosaur skeletons have been found here.  The landscape is beautiful…

There is also a campground where you can camp and hike right amongst the hoodoos.  It is great for a day trip as well…even though there are areas that are not open to the public, you can find many hiking trails.  I can’t count how many times we packed the girls up when they were little and went down for a day of hiking or just a picnic.  And when you are tired of being outside there is a field station where you can go in and watch short videos and see some of the skeletons that were discovered in the park.  If your kids like dinosaurs…they are going to love Dinosaur Provincial Park!

Sunday Suggestions….

Here is something we use often.  A lot of you might know about it…hopefully you do.  But I know that a lot of our Canadian friends don’t realize that this option is available.  It is Allegiant air.  http://allegiantair.com

Allegiant air is an airline that is only in the United States.  Luckily for some of us Southern Canadians, we can hop in our cars, go over the border and arrange a flight for a substantially lower dollar amount.  The trick is that certain airports, such as Great Falls, Montana, only have Allegiant flights to Las Vegas and Phoenix.  We just happen to like going those places and on occasion have arranged flights for as low as $59 + taxes each direction.  A very big difference to the $200 plus out of the nearest Canadian airport!  For us this means more trips.  Not just couples trips either, with those prices we are able to take all 5 of us more often.  There is nothing quite like renting a house in Phoenix for a week and knowing you will still be able to afford groceries when you get home :)