Sunday, June 29, 2008

Dziadzi: A Head Away

This week-end we spent in New York. We spent most of the time with our Dziadzi and Babci. Today we went to a BBQ at there house. Like 5 minutes after we started it started to rain. It was pouring from the start. So the BBQ was held inside. It was really nice seeing every-one again. Tomorrow we go back to Boston. But first we are going to NYC. We are going to see Anita for lunch. Then to Boston.

TTYL Love Ya!!!!!!!!!!

-- Allison <3>

Saturday, June 28, 2008


So, it seems Samantha missed a few things in her post yesterday, although she did remember some very important things! Let's briefly go back a couple of days.

Wednesday was travel day. Two hour drive to the Kansas City airport, then three hour flight to Boston. We used an airline we've never flown before, Midwest, and I totally recommend it. Yes, this is nervous-flier Danielle recommending an airline! It was smooth, there was more room, and they served warm cookies! And you weren't charged for them! That made up for the $3.50 we had to pay just to LEAVE the airport in the car we rented.

I don't have a welcome to Boston pic (yet) since we flew in, so in lieu of one, this is my sister and BIL's cat Arthur. Doing what I wish I were doing more of, sleeping. It just never feels late when it hits midnight or 1am, and I usually toss and turn until 2:30 or 3am. London should be a zombie-blur at this point, if I don't get some decent sleep soon.

We spent a day in Boston and Tari-Mom came over, then we all went to her condo to check out the renovating she has been doing and help her unload some things. It's quite a nice place- it fits her very nicely I think. There are some photos on the flickr site, as well as others from the strawberry picking the girls did in Katie's backyard garden. I wish I had the motivation to garden. I don't even want to mow the lawn- how I am going to keep up a garden!?!

Friday we drove down to NY and Staten Island, where Greg-Dad and his wife live (SI is where I was born). As Samantha said last post, we are staying at a Hilton, and all I can do is compare it to the other hotels we've stayed at so far this trip. The Days Inn doesn't even begin to compare, but I became more and more disappointed in the Hotel Albuquerque after being here. VERY nice. Microwave and mini fridge in room. An actual fitness CENTER vs. a fitness box like in NM, and they also had cookies! I'm starting to think the places that serve cookies are the ones that are worth sticking with...

We met up with Dad and Mel for dinner, and I ended up not feeling too well afterwards. Though I was feeling a little off the whole drive to NY, so I don't think it was the food. It did keep me from trying out the fitness center this morning, but I hope to use it tomorrow. I've been trying to make sure I do some sort of exercise every other day or so. So far it's been working pretty well. If I can maintain rather than gain, I'll be one happy camper!

Today Dad drove us into Manhattan to visit my Aunt Debbie in the hospital, who's recovering from a triple bypass. It went surprisingly well- she was out of ICU in about 24 hours, and should be going home Tuesday. She looked great to me, and it seemed she was back to her feisty self. Regina-Mom (has anyone figured out my family tree yet?) is flying in tonight to stay with her for a few weeks while she recovers. Greg-Dad and Bret are picking her up and getting her to my Aunt's.

So right now we're chilling at the hotel, going to pop in a movie, and hopefully all of us will get a little more sleep tonight, because I think we all were a little grumpy. Tomorrow the morning is pretty free, then we're heading to a BBQ at Dad's, where I will see more family that I haven't seen in ages! Will there be photos? Well, I'm sure you all know the answer to that one by now...

Friday, June 27, 2008

we're in New York!!!!!!!!!!

Today we went on a long drive to Staten Island.And we are staying at Hilton Garden Inn. we went swimming at a indoor pool in the hotel. And tomorrow we are going swimming again. And my dad is the Daddy Express in the pool. we had lot's of fun.


Monday, June 23, 2008

No Toto, we *are* still in Kansas least for one more day! Sorry there haven't been any updates since we got here. If you've been checking the twitter feed you get a little bit of the happenings here and there, and there are also more photos on the flickr page. But every time I thought about doing a blog post, I was either booted off by others wanting to check their email, or I just plain didn't feel like it! Which I guess is a good thing, I'm enjoying not being AS connected as I usually am.

It's been a very good visit with Nanas, and Bret's sis Valina. Even though it's a very small town (I mean like, VERY), we still managed to keep pretty busy. Unfortunately a lot of this was due to some hours of clean up around their property from the tornado that hit a couple of weeks ago. Each day there were volunteers from K-State or Salvation Army cleaning up brush and cutting down broken trees (the photos above is from their back porch looking at the sunrise over some of their broken trees), and the city had the street closed off in order to help further up the hill where unfortunately the homes are in much worse shape. Worse shape meaning roofless in several instances. Nanas were pretty tired, but I think having some family around through it really helped their spirits. It was very sad to see all the damage and the toll it has, yet inspiring at the same time to see the good in people as they came to help. I must say I'm just a teeny bit worried about the van, as it will be sitting outside here for the next month. A tree in the middle of it would make for great photos I suppose, but I'd rather avoid that happening, heh.

We managed to spend a couple hours at the Sunset Zoo during the week, and trust me, you only need a couple of hours because it's a very tiny place. The neat thing about it was how close you could actually get to the animals, and since the weather is more agreeable, they are actually visible (unlike the Phoenix Zoo in summer!).

We also celebrated Nana's 25th wedding anniversary on Sunday. They had a small re-affirmation of their vows, and though it was unfortunate that many canceled due to the tornado, it was perfect all the same. They had their children and their grandchildren with them. It was intimate and beautiful. I asked them if they would perhaps head to Cali or New York and make it legal, but it doesn't really matter if it's not acknowledged in the state they are living in. For now, it's acknowledged by those who do matter, and I can't help but smile at the irony of their "unofficial" marriage lasting 25 years. Take that, haters!

Have I talked about the food yet? I feel like all we've done when we weren't actually moving is eat. I'm trying SO hard to be good, but I'm in the midwest! It's a meat-and-potatoes kind of town. I think I've had my body weight in beef over this past week. We did get treated to a couple of local favorites though. A great breakfast cafe in a converted office space, and some Jamaican food out by the reservoir. They were the sort of places that you wouldn't know about unless you know someone who lives here, and the food was pretty darn good at both of them. Bret and I also got a treat of dinner and a movie, to which we went sprinting out the door to escape the kiddies for a few hours. I know, how original. Dinner and a movie. There's one theater in this town friends- you tell me what else we were gonna do?!

There are also a couple of birthdays! Samantha's was yesterday, and tomorrow is Allison's. (For those who might be a little confused, we celebrated them last month so they could have parties with their friends). Now they are officially 8 and 11, respectively. We had a party for them on Saturday night. They really did enjoy spending their birthdays with their Nanas.

So now our time on this portion of our trek is coming to an end. Tomorrow everyone is heading out horseback riding. I'm staying behind and will start getting things together for our flight to Boston Wednesday. We will be there for one day, then we head down to NYC/Staten Island for the weekend to see more family, then one more week in the Boston area before we leave for London! We will be meeting up with some podcast friends while in MA- the Wicked Good family and ScottyJ! (Or, "crazy Scott" as my children call him.) Hmmm... this might be a good opportunity to pull out the H2 and get some audio. Politics, anyone? ;-)


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hello... We're in Kansas

Danielle let me guest-blog today, as I wanted to share my thoughts on the adventure so far. Albuquerque is pretty well captured by D below, so I won’t bore you with those details again; however, I will rehash a little wrt the Royal Gorge Bridge. I wasn’t too sure about going, but know D was excited to see some things along our route to Kansas so I obliged. It is an impressive structure and had enough activities to keep both the kids (ok, all three of us) entertained for most of the day. We started out with a ride on the carousel then walked the great span across. Both the girls were a bit disappointed as they were too tall to ride the burros --- it looks like they might get a chance to go horseback riding next week, so that should more than make up for things. We took the tram back across then the railroad cars to the bottom. I would highly recommend everyone visit once if you get a chance. D mentioned one could spend more than a day here, but once and for only a day was enough for me. I wouldn’t mind trying the sky-coaster or rafting down the river some day, but one day at the park itself is plenty for me. Our mascot seemed to have a good time too:

We watched a short movie on the making of the park (about 15 mins of advertisement and 4 mins of useful facts, in my opinion), and I found it amusing they stated the Royal Gorge was cut through sheer granite --- unlike Arizona’s Grand Canyon which was carved through layers of dirt! A little, “My state is better than your state…. Nyaaah!” going on, I think.

Another long drive to Kansas (~8.5 hrs), but all seem to be holding up well. D was very impressed with the cleanliness and high quality of the Kansas rest-stops (we only stopped at one, but it sure made an impression).

Mom’s place is still standing. Not a tree top over 20 feet high and they had to have about 8-10 trees cut down and removed, but the house is intact. Both her and Sue are a little distraught at the mess the storm left, but I keep telling them how lucky they are --- the house made it through without much damage and more importantly, they made it through without any harm or injury!!! For all my views (prejudices?) on Kansas, I must say how thoroughly impressed I am with the kindness of people here. Not 5 mins after we arrived, the Dean of Mom’s college and his wife pulled up and quietly started hauling brush and debris off the property. Two other professors from her college have been working feverishly for the past two days cutting down trees and hauling limbs to the curb. When I went out to introduce myself and thank them for their generosity, there response was simply, “it felt like the right thing to do. We’re just sorry we couldn’t be here earlier.” I have hopes for the future of humanity knowing people are still kind-hearted no matter how Bush and the rest of his cronies act in the face of tragedy. [Had to throw a small political rant in here to make you feel at home reading a post on her blog ;-)]

Mom just left to drive the 2.5 hrs to the Kansas City Airport to get Valina and it started pouring not 2 mins after she left. Guess we’re done moving brush for the day. Thanks for letting me get my thoughts out, and I hope you found it almost as interesting as when D posts.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Day At The Bridge

Unfortunately the WiFi here at the Days Inn is not the greatest, and after several attempts to upload some photos to flickr, then a smaller photo here with no luck, I'm not going to try any more. Which really bums me out- I'm sure it's more fun to see the photos than just read my ramblings!

We made it to Colorado Springs last night, and then today headed out to see the Royal Gorge Bridge in Canon City. Bret didn't quite understand why I thought we would need a good three or four hours at a bridge, until he saw it. It's an entire park set up around, over, and under the bridge to amuse you for days if you wanted. The bridge itself is the highest suspension bridge ever built, with the Arkansas River rushing through at the bottom of the gorge. You can walk or drive across the bridge to the other side. We walked, though Sam became a little wary as we hit the halfway mark and you could really feel the bridge sway.

In the main entrance there are a few different activities you can do. They've got a carousel set up across from the gift shop. Then as you head towards the bridge, you can take the tram across instead, or the incline train down to the river. They've also got a regular train ride that goes through the gorge, offering either a short trip, or if you plan ahead you can take a dinner ride.

On the other side of the bridge they have burro rides, a small wildlife trail with elk and bison, petting zoo, and also their main attraction, the Sky Coaster. You lie flat on your stomach, they take a crane and pull you back, you release the cord, and you fly out over the ledge and get a view down into the gorge. Looks like quite a rush- I took video of some poor souls screaming their heads off. This was not part of the main admission, go figure.

Finding this place was my idea, and I think the rest of the family enjoyed themselves. You could easily spend a few days doing different activities. They also offer white water rafting, and there are campgrounds close by as well. A very beautiful area, and I think we visited just before they started getting the bulk of their summer visitors, because it was not extremely busy either. It was a really enjoyable day, and I can't wait to show you all a few photos!

Though that might have to be even more delayed as we head to Kansas tomorrow morning. It's another 7 or 8 hour drive for one thing. Also, Manhattan, Kansas was hit with a tornado a week or so ago, and though their house is fine, they are still waiting for their cable to return. This means unless I sneak away to the Panera's down the street, I will be out of internet commission until Boston on the 25th. Which honestly is not that bad of a thing. Other than keeping me company during times like now when I'm not able to sleep, I've only been using the computer to dump our photos and see if anyone replied to the twitters I have been posting throughout the days. I've still got plenty of podcasts to catch up on, and I even have those paper things with the words inside too if I get REALLY desperate!

We are all holding out pretty well so far, now 5 days into our travels. We're all very tired, I think. It's been a very busy beginning to our trip, and a whole lot of driving. We look forward to seeing Lorri and Sue in Kansas, and being able to spend more than just a few days in one place and relax. The girls actual birthdays are next week, and they are both very excited not only to see their Nanas, but spend their birthdays with them. Bret's sister Valina is coming out too, so that's just an added bonus!

Oh, and laundry. Definitely need to do some laundry.

As soon as I'm able to, I will update again, and get some more photos up!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mazel Tov from Albuquerque!

I'm so very exhausted but wanted to get a blog post done before I crashed. Amazing how I'm up earlier than I normally am at home- and it's only an hour time difference! Aren't you supposed to sleep in on vacation?? However, it's my own doing. I met my sister both Saturday morn and today down at the fitness center and got a workout in. I think I'll skip it tomorrow though.

This morning began (after the workout) with a small happy Father's Day for Bret in our room. The girls made him a shirt, and we thought it would be nice to keep the moment between the 4 of us. After that we met the rest of the clan downstairs in the restaurant for breakfast, and also gave some Happy Birthday wishes to Tari-Mom. Then we all trekked it into Old Town Albuquerque to wander and try and find a gem/rock/shiny things store for the kids.

We didn't. Unfortunately the kaleidoscope store was closed too. But it was nice to wander around, and we found a great chili store with just about every sort of chili sauce your intestines can (and can't) handle. The names were great too- so great I really hoped my kids didn't notice any of them (yes I took photos). We also found a rattlesnake museum as well, but we ended up skipping it because the kids found their rocks in the gift shop and that was good enough for them.

Bret is slowly getting over his virus, which is good, because he's tired of not being able to eat what he wants and feeling so warn out so fast. Who wants that on vacation? He managed to go down and swim with us after we returned from Old Town for a bit. The girls and I stayed longer enjoying the slightly cooler weather, then it was time to get ready for the reason we came to Albuquerque in the first place. My Aunt Peggy's wedding.

It was a new experience for me. I've been to many a Catholic wedding, I've been to a Mormon wedding. This wedding was a Jewish ceremony. It was held at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, in their back gardens. Although it was a little warm, it was still a beautiful ceremony. Allison said she really liked hearing the parts in Hebrew. Samantha said she liked seeing the glass smashed. Not a dry eye from any of the Radin side when a short remembrance of John-Dad was read. I really wish he could have been there, yet it seemed like he was...

The kids unfortunately didn't fare too well with the vegan dinner that was served. Allison did ok and at least tried it, but Samantha and my nephew Jonah got a surprise visit from the McDonald's fairy. The cake was great too. One tier white, one tier chocolate, and one tier vegan coconut. Quite yummy!

My brother, Andy, photographed the wedding as an official gig to get his new photography business going. He's amazing, if any of you on twitter clicked any of the links to his blog during his Asia travels, you know what I mean. It was a lot of fun watching him work, although it did stink he couldn't really be a *part* of the festivities because he was working. He won't be in any of the wedding photos!

Another very special part of the evening for me, was meeting one of the Radin cousins, Janet. She is a violist who is a career movie-soundtrack-orchestra-music person (is there an official name for that?). She's worked on a gazillion movies, like The Simpsons Movie, Home Alone, ALL of the Indiana Jones movies (not including the latest) and a slew of others over the years! Ever since I moved in with my foster family, John-Dad was always trying to arrange a meeting between us (since I played viola), which just never seemed to work out. Tonight I finally met her, after about 17 years. It was wonderful, and I know Dad would be so pleased that we finally met. Just wish he could have been there for it. What's weird? I kept finding myself thinking, "I have to tell Dad I finally met Janet!" I don't think I'll ever be used to him being gone. I'm sure I'm not the only one who missed him a little more tonight.

Now, here it is well after 1am, and I'm trying to get this finished and upload a few photos. Tomorrow we are heading up to Colorado after spending the morning with the fam, so the first stop on our Summer of Fun is nearly over. I will see many of these family members again in a week or so when we get to Boston, so it won't be TOO sad of a goodbye.

Onward we go! PS- you can click the photo above to get to the flickr site and a few more photos. I will automatically do this from now on!

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Cutler's Summer Of Fun Begins!

This was one long day. After goodbyes to the dog and stopping to top off the gas tank, we were on our way!

Unfortunately, a meanie stomach virus that Allison was being bothered with made it's way over to Bret, so our trip took just a bit longer. However, I now know all the rest stops from Phoenix to Albuquerque. This also meant I drove the entire way, which makes me rather drained right now. Bret offered several times, but I didn't want to stress him with that on top of not feeling well.

We did manage to have a good drive up though. We stopped at the Petrified Forest for lunch, then took a route through a bit of the Painted Desert before reconnecting with I-40. Absolutely stunning. I will probably upload a few photos to Flickr tonight. I will do that periodically throughout the trip, then when we get home I will upload everything else. If today was any indication, we should have thousands of photos to sort through once we're home! Yikes!

Anyway, we got into town around 8:30, then met up with the family. SO good to see them! Tomorrow Katie and I are going to check out the fitness center here at the hotel. Oh heck, we might even exercise too! I certainly know there is a beautiful pool out there that will require my attention tomorrow as well... but for now, I rest.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Clearing the dust... preparing for adventure!

Updated some links, deleted some things. Summer is here, and I'm about to head out for a 6-week adventure with my family. Where better to put the adventures in a place that has been very VERY neglected since September?

June 13th is when the fun begins, and we drive out to Albuquerque for my (foster) Aunt's wedding. I absolutely love that we are leaving on Friday the 13th! (13 is my favorite/lucky number) From there it's to Colorado on the 16th, then Kansas. We fly to Boston after that, on the 25th or 26th , then from there a few days in NYC. BACK to Boston, and over the Atlantic for 8 days in London! Then the trip in reverse, minus a couple of stops. We should be back home sometime at the end of July.

Then I sleep, and count the days until school begins. ;-)

You can grab this feed in the sidebar to follow with ease, or you will definitely see updates via Twitter, as well as photos being uploaded periodically on Flickr. I won't have regular podcasts, but I am bringing the mobile podcast gear along, so you might have a surprise update here and there in the podcast feed. :-)

So... away we go!