Friday, October 18, 2013

Fall is in the Air?

 Ok, so Fall might not be in the air just yet, here in Florida, but Halloween is creeping closer by the day. The pumpkin patch was waiting for us last weekend after a mountain bike ride in our local state park. The boys did great on their bikes while Mom and Dad ran the trails with them. It's finally cool enough to enjoy Rocky Bayou and more importantly, less buggy!

After biking, we hit the pumpkin patch and found the perfect carving pumpkins. Our visit was a quick one because Dad came across a bike demonstration on base that was AWESOME. These guys were good! They had huge ramps set up and thrilled the crowd with flips, twists and other extreme biking maneuvers. The boys were amazed! Axel was psyched. Lucas was nervous. That about sums up the boys when it comes to extreme sports. :)

Back to the pumpkins...

I tried to get every one to wear silly mustaches for the pumpkin carving but they thought I was nuts!

Lucas went the scary route.
Mom loves doing this.

Lucas was our photographer.
Axel went the happy route.

Nice photo Lucas!

The finished pumpkins.
 I'm glad Lucas took these photos because here in Florida, you have about 3 days before the pumpkin  gets full of while fuzz, rots and is a fruit fly breeding zone. They look extra creepy in this state and then turn to a pile of mush before your eyes. I like to remember our beautiful pumpkins like this...

I think we did great!

Axel's got a little more scary with the lights off.
 The next day, we headed to Pensacola for an Art and Wine Festival. To make if a full day of fun, we left early with all the bikes packed in the car. Dad found some great bike trails for a long family bike ride. This was the first time Axel would use the trailer bike and Lucas would be on his own bike. I'm not sure how far we went but it was the farthest Lucas has ever gone on his own. There were moments of frustration, tiredness and a less-than-pleased boy but overall, he did really, really well. We were very proud and he learned that sometimes exercise it tiring and hard work. :)

After our bike ride, we hit the beach for a little football. It was a gorgeous day and the ocean was a calm as I've ever seen it.

 We then headed over to the boardwalk for the festival. We walked out a long pier with the boys and discovered Moon Jellyfish. October is jellyfish season around here and the water was full of them. They were bigger than dinner plates. I told the boys not to fall in because I wanted nothing to do with those jellyfish.
 The festival was really fun for Mom and Dad. Lucas read his Harry Potter book and Axel played with whatever gadget he could find. They mostly hung out in the shade while we taste tested each and every sample available. There was more wine than we could ever want and seven chefs featuring various foods. We fell in love with the bread pudding and the chef fell in love with us...or maybe with our accolades and tips! Either way, it was a great working relationship!
The boys opted for pizza and this big mirror was perfect for a family photo!
 On the way home, Axel requested another trip to the beach. We all agreed and found a huge sand bar to walk way out on. The water was warm and the air was cool but it was so beautiful. We had a great time swimming and then headed home. It was time for some relaxation after a busy, fun filled weekend.
Homework time.

They guys are the best of friends and it makes my heart smile.

Here's my BFF! I love you all! -Love, Mom

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hurricane Karen

With Hurricane Karen looming out in the Gulf, we headed straight for the beach last Friday after school. We were prepared for a weekend full of rain and indoor activities so Friday was our last chance for some beach time.

It's so nice having Daddy here this Fall and going to the beach with two adults makes Mommy feel safer. I have this rule about not going into the water in the evenings because I've seen (from a helicopter) sharks swimming closer to the beach at "feeding time." I don't know how true my theory is but I figure that it's better to be safe than sorry. Mommy had to ignore her rule on this day. Daddy on the other hand, tossed the word "shark" out of his head and into the ocean he dove. We brought the boogie boards again and what fun they are. It didn't take long for the boys to figure out how to catch the tail end of the waves. Luckily, they were content being in shallow water zipping on the boards as the waves pushed them along. Daddy, he was determined to catch a real wave...a BIG HURRICANE KAREN wave!

It was the perfect evening, the storm was turning up some big beautiful waves. Definitely the biggest we have seen here without a double red flag (this day was only one red flag...eeks?!) Anyways, out to sea Daddy went and he had no problem catching some waves. He had a harder time keeping his family focused enough to watch him do it. :) Sorry Daddy, we know you caught some great ones because the good ones we did see, were awesome!

We played and played and had a blast. We did have to be super careful with the boys in the water. The rip tide was extremely strong and could easily suck them into deeper water quickly. We had a man-on-man plan accompanied by a hold hand law especially for Axel. The boys quickly realized that this was a perfect plan because getting sucked and tumbled in the waves was not so pleasant.

At one point, Daddy convinced Mommy to go try to catch a wave...HA! I timidly complied half wanting to run to the car but to be honest, he did make it look fun. I could totally see myself catching a wave or all of them, right?! Getting out far enough to "catch" a wave turned out to be my biggest challenge. The waves get super big right when they crest and cash into the sand bar. My swimsuit (bikini) was around my neck and ankles numerous times. Luckily, no one could tell because I got them back on as I was underwater getting pounded by the waves. Yeah, I wasn't too worried about sharks at this point! Well, I tried and tried to find the sweet spot and then a double wave put the big smack down on me, cleaned out my brain with some fresh saltwater and sent me back to the beach thankful to be alive. :) I'm definitely a mountain girl but you know what, I can see myself catching those waves as clear as can be! The brain, it's a wonderful thing...sometimes!

Here are a few photos I did manage to get later in the evening.
Lucas sitting right where the water rushes back to the ocean after the big waves wash ashore.
It was cool to watch this little river form and change with the tide and powerful waves.

You can see the sand ripples. This was a perfect spot for the boys to play without having to worry about the rip tide.

Look who snuck in the photo. :)

After catching his waves, Axel was determined to make a trench.

Here he is making sure Daddy is doing it correctly after precise instructions.

Very intense.

Thanks for smiling for me Axel.

Just one more! I think he was worried about how long this photo shoot would take. He had some managing to do...

Watching intently.

Daddy did great and then about two minutes later, a huge wave washed it all away and we had a full on meltdown. It was time to go eat some dinner!

A nice lesson in water erosion.

Happy sandy boy!

See those waves coming? Yep, that is what ended out beach time that evening. :)
Oh, so Hurricane Karen never really came. Saturday turned out to be just gorgeous so we took the boys on a bike ride that ended up being 7.5 miles long. Yes, Axel on his tiny little bike rode the entire way all by himself. We do real family pedaling rides for these boys anymore. After the bike ride we headed to Destin for some mini golf and window shopping.

Sunday was a little cloudy, then a little rainy so we kept busy around the house thankful that Hurricane Karen didn't make it to land.


A dear friend of ours was getting married in Sonoma, CA at a beautiful vineyard. Napa Valley is gorgeous this time of year and the produce stands every mile along the way made our heart smile.  We flew out with the boys and made it an action packed 4 days.

This is how our trip panned out:

Saturday - Flew to San Francisco via Atlanta, GA and a quick stop in Phoenix, AZ, drove to hotel, headed to the wedding in Sonoma, watched a beautiful ceremony, enjoyed delicious appetizers, chased the kids around, ate a yummy dinner, watched kids fall asleep while waiting for cake and dancing. Ooops, the combination with a late wedding and the time change knocked us out. We ended the celebration before we could really get our groove on but we were so happy to see Kristina & Nick get married!

Sunday - Drove to Truckee, CA right over Donner Pass which looked like a winter wonderland with the recent snowfall. Headed to Lake Tahoe for a "quick trip" noticing a ton of bike riders racing on the road (should have been a red flag), walked around Tahoe, tried to drive back to Truckee but got stuck in a 2 -3 hour long traffic jam (remember those bike racers? Yep it was an IRONMAN RACE), after much heartache we finally made it to Donner Pass to go rock climbing,  we met up with Chris & Sarah, then hit an amazing all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant in Reno, NV. Despite the horrendous few hours stuck in traffic, we ended on a high note...the sushi was outstanding!!

Monday - Breakfast in Truckee at the Squeeze Inn (famous for omelets which were the subject of a Bobby Flay "throwdown"), super fun day climbing at Donner Pass, drove to Sacramento to eat dinner at Zocalos. The boys discovered IN-N-OUT Burgers and milkshakes so they were thrilled.

Note: Daddy discovered Zocalos while in Afghanistan. He would dream about tasty food back in the States and research restaurants on Google, YouTube etc. He came across Zocalos chef, Ryan Rose, who made a video on how he makes our beloved Cochinita Pibil (Mexican pork dish). Daddy was determined to go try it if we were ever in Sacramento so this was a must stop place. After watching Shaquille O'Neal and a few other famous basketball players come into the restaurant, we asked to meet the chef. Ryan was so flattered to hear Daddy's story. It was so cool to see them meet and I know it meant a lot to both of them. It was also pretty cool to see Shaq...that is one big man!! But the best part, we discovered a new dish! Their pork carnitas tacos were AMAZING and unlike anything we have ever had before.

Tuesday - We woke up early and drove into San Francisco to hit the market and tracked down some food trucks for lunch. We found some but nothing off the charts, we were a little disappointed. Looks like we need to hit Washington D.C. or New York! We then headed to the airport to take a 4+ hour flight back to Atlanta and get mentally prepared for another 5 hour long drive home. We did make it safely back home at 2am and were all extremely tired the next morning. It was worth it!

So, do you see a theme here? Yes, FOOD! We are total foodies now. Daddy is a new guy when it comes to food and we both seek out cool new tasty cuisine everywhere we go now. It's been so much fun and we have truly made some amazing discoveries.  Here at home, we have perfected some darn good dishes AND we love to share!!

Anyways, here are the photos I did get of our trip. They, by no means capture all of our adventures we squeezed into our four days and I do regret not getting a photo of us all dressed up for the wedding. Maybe we could stage a photo for good the memory books. Here you go, enjoy!
View looking out from inside the vineyard building, Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery. The air was so cool, crisp and dry!

Daddy ran into a Col he knew back at the USAF Academy so that was fun and unexpected.

The wedding was a late one, it stared about 6pm and was moved indoors because of the cold weather.  These are the rose petals waiting for the bride and groom.

Daddy and Lucas waiting patiently.
Axel was also very patient. We sure do have great kids!
All these guys ready for the ladies to come in.

Nancy, the Maid of Honor.

Flower girls.

Kristina and her Dad walking in.

Blurry photo but you get the point. She looked gorgeous!

The vows.

Her brother married them and did a great job!

Happy couple!

The rings!

The kiss!

The newly weds! Congratulations Kristina & Nick!!

We took a little tour while the photographers did their part. Here's the cake!

It was beautiful and the room was just perfect for her special evening.

The boys were amazed at how big the barrels were Mommy & Daddy.

Our little pyro (Lucas) was in candle heaven. He entertained himself with these little candles literally for hours.

Axel got an earful on fire and magic.  However, he loves Lucas and they have become such good friends. It was great they had each other because there were only a few kids attending.

Beautiful Orchids in water for table decorations.

Axel attacking his salad while dreaming of cake. Lucas trying to avoid his salad and dreaming of candles.

You can barley see them, but Kristina and Nick walked in via the staircase by the huge barrel. Great entrance!

That was all she wrote for this trooper. He barely made it through dinner then fell asleep in my arms. No cake, no dancing but lots of rest. We felt bad that he missed the exciting parts of the wedding celebration. He was very disappointed and totally confused the next morning on why we didn't' stay at the wedding. Poor boy. We reassured him that he didn't miss much, that Lucas had also fallen asleep and that we had many more cool adventures planned. He seemed OK with that.

Mommy & Daddy stayed up for the cake and a little dancing before we turned into pumpkins.
Snow on Donner Pass!
I love this photo! It's a sight we just don't see down here in Florida, ever! Mountains and snow, what a treat it was!

Here Daddy is trying to figure out where all the climbs are and if the snow will melt lending to climbable conditions.

The boys and I checked out the view.

And we made some mini snowmen.

I say "we" however, it was Mommy who was the only brave one to get her hands cold to actually make the snowmen. :)
Lake Tahoe
It was a gorgeous day and the air was crisp and cool.

Kind of funny that we checked out the boats while there...

that's something we could do everyday here if we wanted.

I guess it's all just so different when the water is surrounded by mountains.
Donner Pass offers a lot of climbing in a stunning setting.
Daddy taking a look at this step wall.

We couldn't get enough of the view.

At one point, we took the boys to a little high point to check out more views.

This is looking back at the climbing crag.  You can barely see someone climbing and a red shirt below.

Soaking it in!

I love these trees. So fun and full of character.

Here you can see the old pass along with the railroad track along the mountain side.

We headed back to the crag, it was a little cold on top of our little mountain.
Next day, more beautiful weather and enough climbs to keep everyone happy.
Daddy near the top of this cool crack.

The boys loved playing at the base.

Mommy making her way up the crack. I haven't had to do a hand jam in a long time!

Daddy up top while Chris belays.

Chris is Daddy's buddy from high school who now lives out in California.

His wife, Sarah, enjoying the last moments of the sunshine.

The boys earned a little phone time.

I loved that we had to bundle up because it was cold.
We had the best time and it was a trip everyone needed. Sometimes it's hard to imagine FALL or THE  MOUNTAINS or SNOW or CLIMBING WITHOUT A 5 HOUR DRIVE while living here in Florida. We are mountain peeps for sure and can't wait until we move back out west.

Above Photo: Downtown Portland Oregon Bike Ride

The Danger Zone needed a little update to include not only LUCAS DANGER, but also his little brother...AXEL ADVENTURE!

Welcome to our family blog now known as:

DANGER and ADVENTURE Around Every Corner!!