Saturday, June 28, 2008

Orange You Glad the World is a Colorful Place to Be?

Okay, okay, so that was pretty cheesy. But this is my first week to join in on the Brenda Photo Challenge (hosted this week by Joni) and, wouldn't you know it, this week's theme is the color ORANGE! When I first heard the theme, I groaned out loud. Orange? What can I take a picture of that's orange?? (I sometimes have issues with thinking outside the box. Obviously.) Then I saw what Jeanne posted and Joan gave me a little guidance by telling me the things she was going to photograph and I suddenly remembered; the world's a colorful place! I can find 3 orange things, no sweat! And I did. First, here's my orange Lantana that I planted in our backyard a few seasons ago. (Nothing like a hardy perennial, eh!)

I found this next image on my computer. This is a compilation of 2 pictures that I took while at the Mall of America last week. The compilation consists of the orange neon of the "Minnesot-ah!" sign (which in itself just cracks me up) and the bright orange of the Nickelodeon sign from the amusement park located in the center of the mall.
And last, but certainly not least, Tropical Twist Trident gum comes in a pretty, yummy looking orange package. I usually keep at least 2 packs of this stuff in my purse at all times.
So there. I've done it. I've participated in my very first Brenda Photo Challenge. And had a blast doing it. Can't wait to travel Blogland and see the pictures everyone else came up with. For any other Brenda Photo Challenge virgins out there, what are you waiting for? Grab that camera and join in! Thank you Joan and Jeanne for leading me into this with and by your examples. Now stop laughing about my gum fetish. Please.

Friday, June 27, 2008

I'm going in....!

Don't I wish! But alas, there's not the first fallen leaf to be had around here. (sad, sad times, don'tcha know) Seriously, though, I'm afraid of causing "Vacation Photograph Overload" with you guys so I decided to take a couple days break from the vacation pictures (all together now, say "YAY!"). So why am I posting this totally random picture instead? Because it's close to 100 degrees here in Texas and, while they did finally get our A/C fixed Wednesday afternoon, it's still so flippin' hot around here that I've started daydreaming of pumpkins, cooler weather, scarecrows and autumn leaves. (I'm like a broken record every year around this time!) Ahhhhhhh....sure do wish I could be doing what this kid is doing...diving into fall!

Thursday, June 26, 2008


I just heard from my baby (pictured below, holding his baby). He called bright and early this morning (nighttime for him, though) to tell me he's made Tech Sergeant!! I'm so very proud of him! Everything this kid's gotten, he's earned. He's worked hard - had to overcome a few obstacles - and is moving forward well ahead of schedule. So ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you Tech Sergeant Select Nicholas Adams, USAF (aka: my baby).
P.S. Look at little Kara - isn't she adorable?????

Day Two of our Weekend in South Dakota (Mount Rushmore!)

Our second and last day in South Dakota...we woke up to a beautiful morning - look at the view we had from our hotel window: Being on the 9th floor may not have been conducive to having great wireless Internet service (as the desk clerk so "helpfully" explained to us????) but it was sure great for checking out the view. I snapped this next picture because I loved the architectural details on those buildings.
But enough of the hotel...we got up pretty early, got ourselves ready and hit the road to Mount Rushmore. This is the bridge you go under as you approach the entrance to Rushmore. The arch is made of wood! It looks pretty awesome in person.
We had to take Jake's picture in front of this store. lol
This next picture was taken right inside the actual entrance into the park. I'm not sure why it is that Jacob feels to need to pose like a mob guy in all his pictures these days. He throws that head back every time he sees a camera pointed his way. Kids today.
Our first glimpse of the presidents. Those columns that flank either side of the path have the names of the states and the dates they became states carved into the sides. They also hold the names of all U.S. territories. Also of note, this is right about where Randey and I had our one and only notable knock-down dragout of the trip (yeah, no one is more surprised than us that we only had one!).
That's me on the left, then Jake, then Kaleb. See my hand on my hip? That should have been Randey's first indication that he'd said something stupid, which I assure you he had. I don't know if it's a symptom of that rotten peri-menopause or what, but every once in a while, someone will say something that goes right thru me. Like a knife. Thru hot butter. This was one of those times.
After about 5 minutes of snarking at each other, I finally "requested" that he step over to the side with me so that we might "discuss" the issue in private. The "discussion" was....tense and verbose, to put it mildly. Once we'd cleared the air (i.e., I ranted, raved and gestured with my hands and arms while Randey stood there with that "deer in the headlights" look he's so perfected for moments such as that), we managed to put our issues to rest and move on to enjoy the day. 'Course, I can't really speak for how well that Boy Scout troop was able to recover from having witnessed our communication efforts. Who knew there were bleachers full of the little guys just on the other side of that foliage?? I take comfort in the fact that I don't think there was any cursing loud enough to bruise their little ears. Hopefully. Anywho...this is yet another view of the presidents. It's breathtaking in person. If you haven't been there, GO! This mountain goat (I assume that's what this is. lol!) was just grazing along the pathway. He never even acknowledged the hordes of people standing there snapping pictures of him. Guess he's used to the admiration, eh?
Here's Jake, Randey and Kaleb posing for me along the path. By the way, check out Jake's shorts. Colorful, aren't they? I don't know who likes them more, me or Jake.
A closer shot of the monument. I know, I's like I'm showing the same picture over and over, but you have to understand, to see this awesome piece of craftsmanship and history in person is just way too cool to describe. I keep hoping the pictures will "tell the tale" for me.
Here's a view we had as we walked along the pathway. We turned around, away from the presidents (pretty hard to do, actually -they were just so riveting.) and saw this. Pretty country.
Another shot of Jake, Randey and Kaleb. Bless their hearts - they were probably sick and tired of having their pictures taken by then.
But too bad, 'cause here's another one.
And what's a day without me trying for an "arty flora" shot?
Another pic of Kaleb and Jake.
How about this view of the monument? You can see where the work ended to the right of Lincoln's head.
See? Randey and I had made up by the time we got to this point. lol
Lincoln's peeking thru the treetops.
And so is Teddy Roosevelt.
Kaleb took these next three. The kid does better with my camera than I do, huh?

(I love, love, love this one!!!)
Here's a shirt from the Mount Rushmore gift shop that totally appealed to the feminist in me. ha!
And here's my dearly beloved, doing his utmost to embarrass the boys. He followed them around wearing this goofy hat, just trying to get them to acknowledge him.
Randey just had to have a picture of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Soda, which was actually root beer. (Reagan's his favorite president.)
Here's Randey, posing as the next face to be added to the mountain.
Oops! Plans have changed. Looks like Jake's likeness will be carved out next to George's.
Hold the presses! Now it's Kaleb who'll be hanging out with greatness. Who knew? (And no, there is no picture of me doing this. I wouldn't have highlighted my double chin like that for all the tea in China, thankyouverymuch).
Kaleb took the picture of these trees for me. I love these trees. I would have a yard full of them, if it was up to me. And I'd rent a snow machine every Christmas just so I could look at them laden down with the beautiful white stuff. Ahhhhh........
See this sign below?:
That's placed right at the edge of town, just as you head up to the mountain. And while I certainly believe that everyone should, indeed, prepare to "meet thy God", I felt that this could be taken as almost a dire warning...I mean, geez, you're headed up the side of a mountain! Is there some sort of obstacle course you have to pass on the way and does failure to pass said obstacle course result in an immediate meeting with the Almighty?? As it turns out, the sign is just general advice regarding life and not an indication of any sort of specific danger up ahead. Whew. This next picture is of the town of Keystone, which is the tiny little town between Rapid City and the entrance to Mount Rushmore.
Keystone is a pure tourist town. Gift shops galore, overpriced food and merchandise, hokey souvenirs...I loved it! We walked up and down the street, into the stores. It was such fun.
Here's what Kaleb and Jacob found in one of the stores. A Granny. lol!
And God Bless him, here's what Randey found to replace the bear head gear he'd found at the park. The look on Kaleb's face is just plain funny (click to enlarge). He's grown so accustomed to his dad doing stuff like this...
Randey actually bought that hat, but thankfully, doesn't wear the front of the brim turned up like that. lol I thought he was hilarious, even if he boys didn't. He looks like he's ready to start mining for gold, huh? (Like I told you yesterday...that man was convinced he was going to make his fortune panning for the yellow stuff.)
Out of everything we did on our vacation, all the places we went, all the sights we saw, I have to say that Rapid City was probably our favorite. There was so much to do there - I had no idea. I figured we'd do the "gold mine" thing one day, go check out Mount Rushmore the next and be on our way. But there was sooooo much more to the place. There was Mount Rushmore, of course, there were tons of antique stores, there was the Christmas store, miniature golf, a wildlife park, restaurants, other monuments and tours...the list goes on and on. I wish we could have stayed longer, I truly do. We are very seriously considering going back again one of these days.
Next (and finally, I'm sure some of you are thinking) is the last leg of our vacation, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Yeah. That's right. The Mall of America! A shopper's dream. Strangely enough, I think Kaleb and Jacob enjoyed it even more than I did, though. Probably had something to do with the amusement park located in the center of the mall. More on that later....

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Day One of our Weekend in South Dakota (Vacation Post #2)

We got up early Saturday morning and left Billings for Rapid City, South Dakota. I have quite a few pictures of Randey's niece's children that were taken while we were in Billings, but I don't want to post them because I don't think she or her husband would appreciate that too much. Just trust me when I say they are beautiful girls who look absolutely nothing alike! And I mean nothing. Talk about night and day...
Anywho, we left Billings and headed east. We stopped for pictures as we crossed into Wyoming. (We acted like such tourists sometimes. ha!) Here's Randey and me beneath the Welcome sign. We didn't stop as we entered South Dakota, though. I guess it's because we were tired, we were sick of driving/riding and we were on the verge of beating each other senseless over frustration with the stupid GPS thingy we had. But that's a whole other story. Moving on...
We had reservations at the Alex Johnson Hotel in Rapid City. This hotel is quite the historical building there. As their advertisements proclaim "Presidents have stayed here!". Yeah. Bet they didn't stay in the same room we did, though. Here's some shots of the exterior of the hotel.

I'm willing to bet the room they gave us won't be found in any brochure touting the Alex Johnson as THE tourist lodging for the discerning traveler, though. Here's a picture of the TV.
The boys were so flippin' funny when they saw it. They acted like it was an antique and should be in a museum. lol The remote didn't actually work too well for volume control, but it did change the channels okay. The literature for the hotel said it had been "recently renovated" and "brought back" to it's original charm and decor. Soooooooooo, you reckon bright red mini hexagon shaped tiles were all the rage back in the 1930's when this place was built?
And how about that bright orange Formica counter top? Was it a primo feature back in the day, too? lol That toilet you see there was set so close to the wall (and the toilet paper holders were right next to it on that same wall) that you had to kind of go in sideways for a landing. I have to say, though, that while the room wasn't all that great, the hotel itself was very beautiful, the lobby was gorgeous (and I didn't get one single picture of it, dummy me), it had a great little gift shop and the staff was as friendly as could be. Nice place, but I think if I ever go back, I'll look into different lodging. Something a little more modern and maybe with a more user friendly toilet. :)
Has anybody out there ever been to Rapid City? It's such a cute little town! On many corners of the downtown area are statues of our nations great leaders of the past. Here's me, Jake and Kaleb standing next to George Washington's likeness. Who knew George was so skinny? (And yeah, I'm sure it's more a matter of George being skinny vs. me being fat. Go with me on this).
This next picture is of one of their downtown stores. They had so many of them. We went into a couple and would have gone back the next day, but it was Sunday then and most of them were closed. There's tons of little antique places, though. Wonderful shopping - so many interesting things to see and buy. Just make sure you visit on any day but Sunday!
I gave Randey the camera while we were shopping (don't like to be weighed down, you know) and asked him to take some pics of the stuff in the stores. He took forever taking a picture of this glassware. I finally turned around to see what the deal was and that's when he snapped the shot. I think he did it on purpose. But look at all that pretty glassware! It was wonderful just to browse there.
After an hour or so of shopping in Rapid City, we decided to head to Keystone, where we were due to check out a gold mine. Yeah, a real gold mine. lol On the way there, we spotted this:
A CHRISTMAS STORE!! Yee-haw! I was beside myself! Well, actually, I guess I was beside Santa, but you know what I mean, right? See this big glass rock that Kaleb has his honkin' foot on in this next picture?
It's a simulated ice rock and not for sale. I almost had a heart attack when I turned around and saw Kaleb standing on it. Goober. This next picture is me inside the Christmas store. I was sooo happy to be there.
Check out this giant nutcracker. He and his twin brother would look fantabulous on either side of our front door this holiday season. Well. Maybe just his much younger and smaller brother would look good, but still, I would have loved to have taken him home with us.

Ah...the ornaments! Pretty, shiny objects. It so brings out the seagull in me.

And here's me looking insanely goofy with joy as I browsed this place. Loved it, loved it, loved it.
But the gold mine awaited so we had to leave (I went back the next day, though. You won't believe the stuff I got! It wasn't really all that much, really it wasn't, but so cool. I'll post about that later).
Here's the exterior of the gold mine.
And here's the four of us inside the gold mine. Gosh I felt so young, being a miner again. (Get it? Miner/Minor? Yeah, okay, never mind.)
Here's a picture of Jacob and Kaleb with Robert, our tour guide for the gold mine. Amazing how they fit in together. Kaleb and Robert did the thumbs up thing at the same time with no prompting from anybody. Strange youth of today.

This picture was taken inside the gift shop at the gold mine. I was walking along, looking at the shirts when one of them moved a bit. I looked down and saw this cat, snoozing peacefully amongst all the souvenir t-shirts. Funny, huh?
Here's the three of us checking out stuff in the gift shop. The look on Kaleb's face tells you how many times Randey had taken our picture already. lol
I took this picture of Randey as he posed next to this little wooden guy. Randey is definitely the hotter looking of the two, eh?

And here's the boys and me posing with this strange miner dude. Don't even ask what Jake's doing with his hand. Teen.Age.Boy. Need I say more?
Well, maybe I should say more because Kaleb felt the need to do the same thing with his hand. Makes a mother proud, let me tell you.
Speaking of making a mother proud, check out my youngest as he rode the wild mustang in front of the gold mine gift shop. (Sigh. Heavy, heavy sigh.)
Here's Kaleb and Jacob mining for gold after the tour. Kaleb really got the hang of it quickly. Jake? Not so much.
But not to worry...dear old Dad stepped in to help him out.

He helped him out so much, he pretty much tried to take over from him. Anybody out there who knows Randey can just imagine how his eyes were glowing at the prospect of finding real gold. I still can't believe he thought he would. lol
But look at him go...ever the optimist.
In the end, this is what Jacob ended up with. Uh yeah, you can't really see any gold in there, but truly, there were some flakes.
And here's Kaleb's "haul". I think they decided that maybe gold mining wasn't really the profession to be in to "strike it rich" quickly. Although we all had to pretty much drag Randey from the trough, so convinced was he that his fame and fortune was just one little pan away....
The next day was our trip to Mount Rushmore! It was great - can't wait to show those pictures, too. Hope you guys don't get overly bored with this!!!