Monday, July 17, 2017

East Coast Vaca - Day 5 (June 27)

What a day!!  

Backing up:  before we left home, Layth and I mused together about what adventures we might encounter.  Today was an adventure!  It was a day that the best laid plans all went awry and I am sure it will provide memories and stories for years to come.

Today was our transition day out of New York; the day we were to pick up our rental car - a minivan -  that we booked months ago and head to Boston.

Layth and Soren left to get the van (the dealer was in Manhattan) while Keiton and I stayed at the hotel to pack.  We had packed crazy tight when leaving Seattle and I was relishing the fact that I could "spread out" finally since I was going to be picked up in our rental van.   I had a snack food bag, a small zipper cooler, and a "car bag" with things like our beach towels, travel books, sunscreen, etc.  I was just completing the packing task when Layth called with the news that although our reservation was sound, they would not let us drive the vehicle off the lot because we did not have a credit card to put on file.  Now, we've rented cars in the past, both for vacation and for work, many times and have never had a problem.  

Our debit card would not work they said because we were picking up the vehicle at one place and dropping off at another (our tickets are out of Baltimore).  They would not take cash, and they wouldn't let us have a relative call in with their card - the person had to be present.  We had no option except to look for and find a rental car from somewhere else, out of New York for that day, preferably within a couple of hours, that would not require us to return the vehicle to the same location. 

It was close to 10am when I finally hung up the phone with Layth and checkout at the hotel was 11am.  Layth stayed in Manhatten instead of coming back to the hotel in case we could find something quick that he could pick up immediately and bring over.  We started to work on finding a car; Layth on a street corner in Manhatten working from his phone and me from the hotel on my tablet.  It was discouraging as we got into the process because we had found such a great random deal initially (hundreds less than anything else we had found) that the price of renting a vehicle (we quickly gave up the idea of a van and started looking smaller)  starting TODAY was shocking!  

To make matters worse, we had a lot of trouble communicating in that, for whatever reason, Layth could not call me - the call would not go through.  And my calls to him would only go through about once for every four times dialed.  It was crazy intense.  As it became clear that we would not have this resolved by check out time, I asked the front desk for a late check-out and they agreed to give us one extra hour.  Not much time, but I'll take it!!

Back to work furiously.  I finally had a brainstorm.  About 2/3 of our way through our trip we would be staying near Baltimore Airport which was the same airport we would fly home from.  Maybe we could rent a car from New York to Baltimore for the 2/3 duration, and then switch cars there for a round trip.  Looked into it and that was most definitely cheaper!  Renting out of New York is just plain expensive!  Much more expensive than renting out of Baltimore.  So, that is what we eventually booked.  It didn't get us anywhere close to our original deal, but it saved us a few hundred on anything else we could find.  I'll take it!

Still though, we booked but we wondered if the credit card thing would be an issue with this other company!  We purposely chose to book through the company that Layth books through every time he goes on a business trip because he has a "frequent mileage number" or whatever you call it.  We hoped maybe that would help our case if the card was an issue!

That finished and by now a little after 11am, Layth started back to the hotel and I called customer service to see if they would accept a debit card.  The number took me to the general nation-wide help center and the lady there said that "if we had round trip tickets it shouldn't be a problem".  Problem was, we didn't have round-trip tickets!  Our tickets were out of Baltimore!  She said if that was the case, unfortunately a debit card would not work; we needed a credit card.  My heart sank.  I was in the process of looking up the number of the specific dealer at JFK when Layth walked in.  I suggested he call them which he did.

The boys by now were upset because we had tickets to a baseball game that night at Fenway Park in Boston and the time was ticking by.  I was sad because I realized by this time that I was not going to get to do my Newport Cliff Walk which was something that i had REALLY been looking forward too!  I knew though that we needed to get up to Boston asap if we were going to get to that game.

While Layth was on the phone (11:30 or so by now) I went crazy repacking as tight as I could because we were getting kicked out of the room in just a few minutes and we obviously would be carrying our stuff... somewhere, not driving away in a roomy rental van.

Layth's conversation was pretty intense.  He got passed around to different people, and each one would tell him no so he'd ask to talk to someone else.  At one point, while he was being transferred he said to me, "its not looking good, honey".  He worked hard though and pulled all the strings he had - the fact that he had been a loyal and good customer with them for years with no issues, and the fact that we were a family in distress with nowhere else to turn; they were our last hope.  FINALLY someone had compassion and agreed to make an exception.  And not a minute too soon.  We walked out of our room at like 11:57.   Everything was packed crazy, but we were in the suitcases we had originally brought.  I was pretty proud of myself.

Called for a taxi at the front desk and off to JFK we went to get our car.  Which ended up being as basic a "midsize SUV" as you can get!  It was a Jeep, but it had only the very, very basics.  Still, it was transportation and we weren't going to be picky at this point!  We were so thankful for it.

Looking at the time frame, we knew that there was no way we would make it for the start of the game; but we decided that we would still head up and go for whatever time we could.  Traffic seemed to get worse as we went, of course.  Our ETA kept changing to a later and later arrival time to our hotel, which was about 30 minutes south of Boston.  My itinerary included the exact directions and stations we were to use to get from our hotel to Fenway - my research had concluded that parking was scarce in Boston around Fenway and VERY expensive.

It was about 7:10, we were still on the road and I was telling Layth that we might make the last inning of the game if we were lucky when I looked up to see city - city that was too big to be the suburb we were supposed to be in.  Layth's phone had the destination of our hotel which was several miles south, but I looked over and saw that there were the lights of Fenway park only blocks away!!  It was incredible!!   For whatever reason, googlemaps took us WAY north (if you look at a map, its crazy!) and straight to Fenway Park.  "Exit here, that's Fenway Park RIGHT THERE!" I exclaimed as I worked furiously on my phone to pull up the exact directions. "I guess we're parking at Fenway after all!"  God totally took us to Fenway.  And the timing gets even BETTER!  The game was slated to start at 7:10 which is just about the time we pulled off the freeway.  We took quite a while to find parking and even when we finally did it was .7 miles away from the game.  We parked and walked as fast we could to the park, arriving about 8pm to find the first pitch JUST BEING THROWN!  The game had had a rain delay and was just beginning.  We were actually there right on time.  A total God thing.  And so neat to see the way all that worked out after the crazy day we had had!

They played two innings.  We got our hotdogs and had a late dinner and settled in to enjoy the game when they brought out the massive "tarps" and covered the infield and the screens around the field displayed a warning that severe weather was headed our way and everyone needed to take cover immediately. Our seats were covered which was a huge blessing, so we just got to stay put and watch all the action.  It rained, and hailed, and thundered, and lightening(ed) for over an hour.   When it was all over, they unveiled the field, and at 9:54pm (I looked at my watch!)  the third inning began!  We lasted until 10:45 or so; we were pretty beat and had a very busy and very full day planned for the next day.  We walked the mile or so back to the car and drove the 30 minutes south to our hotel where we finally checked in at 11:30.  Such a crazy day.  Saw God's hand in it all though, and we will have more than one story to tell about this day, through the years. 

 Here she is, in all of her "glory"!

We made it!  We are at Fenway Park!!

The massive tarp on the field.  The empty seats in the open.

The warning...

I have a whole series of these photos.  One of the way we stayed occupied during the rain-delay. Funny selfies.

Family photo at Fenway Park.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

2017 East Coast Vaca - Day 4 (June 26)

Day 4, June 26
We started early because we had timed tickets for the Statue of Liberty.  I am glad we waited until Monday to have a timed morning thing.  It allowed us to ease into the time change a little! 
Instead of the subway we chose the East River Ferry boat ride this morning to get us to lower Manhattan.  So great to be out on the water with that beautiful, unique skyline.  Loved every minute of it.  Walked along the water front to Battery Park where we boarded the boat for Liberty Island.
A perfect day to visit Lady Liberty.  Blue sky, abundant sunshine.  It was amazing.  We took our time there and saw it all.  Read every placard around the perimeter outside and in the museum inside, listened and followed the audio tour, Keiton got his Junior Ranger badge, and of course I took lots of photos.  We spent over 3 hours actually on the island.   We had tickets to go up to the pedestal and of course we (as in, Layth) chose the stairs for us all instead of the elevator.  A long climb led to gorgeous sweeping views once there.   By the time we were done and ready to return it was a little before 2pm and there was a long line to catch a ferry back.  I think we waited through 3 full boats.  And I've never been so glad that every morning each of us packs in our backpack: a Cliff bar of choice, 1/4 cup almonds, 1/4 cup Mike & Ikes, and a beef stick.  We may be sick and tired of those choices after 3 weeks, but it saved our lives today (as in, we didn't kill each other because we were so hungry!).   It felt really good to take a break from being on our feet on the ferry ride back. 
Finally back in Manhatten we ended up at a New York Deli (they are known for their unique delis) for a very late lunch.  A unique experience; eating hot food at a picnic type table in the middle of a convenience type store!
We stopped by Charging Bull for Layth to grab a photo and then onto the 911 Memorial and Museum.  I didn't take any pictures there really, at all.  Somehow it just didn't seem right to ask the boys to turn and smile in a setting like that.  The whole thing was very moving; very sobering; hard at times.  But I'm glad we went.  Again, we took longer than I had anticipated, not leaving there until close to 7pm.
Our time in New York was coming to a close. We stood outside the museum, near One World Trade Center and Soren spoke up and said he still had a priority list of about 3 he wanted to do which included the MET.  I hadn't realized that he had a list and might have moved faster if I'd known!  Unfortunately, all the art museums were closed by that time of night. So, Soren didn't get there, and I didn't get to The Highline, get to walk the retail part of 5th Avenue, or peek into the library and Grand Central Station.  Among other things.  Maybe I'll just have to return some day?!
Because we hadn't eaten lunch until after 3, none of us were very hungry, but we decided we could handle some ice cream, so we stopped in at a place on our way to the East Ferry Landing as we headed back to the hotel.  A ferry ride at sunset back to LIC landing was the perfect way to close our day in New York.   We landed just before 9pm and the ferry landing was packed with people and activity!  Music was playing, the food shack was open and people were everywhere; old and young, families and couple's...  It was really interesting. By this time it was nearing full dark and we got to watch the lights of Manhatten on the other side of the river light up while waiting for our hotel transportation to pick us up.  It seemed a fitting end to our stay there.

The landing closest to our hotel where we would catch the East River Ferry.

View of New York from Statue of Liberty

911 Memorial

Ice cream for dinner?  Sure, why not!

East River Ferry ride at sunset.  View of Brooklyn Bridge.

 The food stash (some chose Cliff bars instead of the KIND bar) we each packed every day which saved our lives more than a few times! 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

2017 East Coast Vaca - Days 1 and 2

(These posts are to record details, events, and memories of our Rowles family 2017 East Coast vacation for the benefit of our family.   Apparently I can't post photos from this app which I am REALLY bummed about because the post is not complete without them and even some of the random stories I mention have photos to go along. Oh well.  I will try to add them via computer when I get home, I guess.)

Day One, Friday June 23

Kyndell showed up promptly at 12:15 and we were on the road headed to the airport by 12:25!  The only scare there was when I jokingly said to Layth halfway there, "do you have your wallet?" And I heard a couple minutes of scramble.  Things quieted down and I knew all was good.
It was Keitons first plane ride since a baby so the airport was all new for him.  As we sat at the gate i asked him if it was anything like he imagined and he said, "not at all!".
The plane was delayed due to weather in New York, although in the end not as long as they had originally anticipated which was nice.
Once on the plane Keiton was quite nervous about take off.  He gripped the seat and squeezed his eyes shut.  Soren encouraged him that it would be just fine.  An uneventful flight.
Landed after midnight.  By the time we disembarked and got our checked luggage, it was after 1am.  Had to stand in a long line for a cab!  Even at that time of night.  Crazy.
Got a cab, who had never heard of our hotel (that made me nervous!) and we headed out for a 35 minute cab ride through NYC (Brooklyn) in the middle of the night...  in the rain.   Not very good first impressions of New York given these factors!  We reached our hotel and the check in clock said 1:42am.  My boys joked with the check in guy that it was much earlier and he commented that no, it most definitely felt like 1:45am!! 
Our hotel, The Box House Hotel is one of a kind.  Unique, cool, boutique-y.  We love it. Not in the heart of any tourist area, but worth it.  It hardly feels like a hotel.
We settled in as quick as we could and by a little after 2am were all asleep.

Day Two, Saturday June 24

Slept in until close to 9 am and then settled into the room, packed our bags for the day and headed down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast about 10:30.
After breakfast, we took the free hotel shuttle... to the wrong train station!  It was my fault, I asked him to take us to the wrong place.   I was realizing it as we were driving, but I didn't know how to correct it so we got dropped off in the wrong place in New York and didn't have any clue where to go from there. A few tense moments of conversation and we hopped on a train to get to Manhattan.  Got off someplace and started looking for the Big Bus Tour stops.  Found one with a sign and hopped on the first bus when it came (driver said he would take us to where we could pay) and as I'm sitting there, on this red, double-decker bus I realize that nowhere does it say "Big Bus Tours" and in fact, another bus company logo is plastered all over.  We had hopped on the wrong bus!!  Felt like we went "forever" until it finally stopped.  And when it did, we hopped off and tried to figure out where to go from there!   

I'm not sure I have ever appreciated my very "smart" phone more.  We did finally get where we needed to be and we did finally get on the right bus and enjoyed touring New York via the top of it.  We hopped off at one point for Starbucks and to change to a different route which was refreshing.  It was hot sitting up there in the sun! 

We ended with the bus that drove right through Times Square.  It was about dinner time and the place was PACKED!  What an crazy, unique place.  We got off the bus, decided to eat a quick dinner at Shake Shack and then explored Times Square on foot. It was a fascinating place that for some could probably be overload.   Keiton made a comment, "mom, there is some inappropriate stuff".  Yes, yes there was.  And i was hoping he hadn't noticed!  Sigh...  

We didn't make it to the Doughnut Project which has been on our itinerary and both boys knew it.  So, we ended up at Dunkin Doughnuts, which are a dime a dozen here.  

We got lost down IN the Times Square subway station looking for our train. We knew which train to take and where we wanted to get off, we just couldn't find where to catch it!  Did not feel (still do not feel) that it makes any sense!! It was crazy hot down there, and the place was huge with many floors and dozens of trains coming and going. I finally asked for help and got some very vague directions which didn't make sense given what I was looking for, but they helped and we found what we were looking for.

Got off in Brooklyn and walked over the bridge to our hotel (beautiful views from the bridge!) and past our hotel to find a store where we could buy breakfast food.  By this time it was after 8 and the kids were dragging.  Wish I could say it was all fun and an adventure, but that hour or so wasn't much fun!  Finally found what we were looking for after a local spoke up as we walked past and said, "I think you're going the wrong way, there's nothing down there".  She was right.  We had turned the wrong direction for the store.  Her "it's another block that way" was in actuality, another 3 or 4 blocks that way!

Got back to hotel a little after 9 and after showers and some down time and we were a happy bunch again!

At the aiport waiting to board the plane!

Keiton as we were taking off

New York Big Bus Tour

A cool drink on a hot day.

Times Square

Our "hotel room" from the door looking in .  Box House Hotel.

Living Area and part of the kitchen.  The Box House Hotel.

Taken from the bridge near our hotel.  Whenever we took the subway home, we walked across it back to our hotel.

View from the bridge on our walk home on the first evening.

2017 East Coast Vaca - Day 3

Day 3, June 25

Today was the perfect New York day and it flew by in a New York minute!

We got up and began with a boat ride on the East River Ferry from the landing near our hotel to DUMBO/Brooklyn Bridge.  It was stunning to be out on the water with Brooklyn on one side and Manhattan on the other.  We all thoroughly enjoyed it and decided it was WAY better than the subway!  And an added bonus, CHEAPER!!  

After we got off at DUMBO, we moved towards the Brooklyn Bridge walking path and came across the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory (which happened to be on my itinerary!).  We got all excited, and the boys could not believe that we were really suggesting ice cream before lunch... until we got close and found that they hadn't opened yet and didn't for another hour!!!  What a disappointment. 

Our walk across the bridge was amazing.  Fun, lots of photos opportunities, and not too hot. 
Keiton has use of a phone to take photos and he is as into it as I am!  Layth was bemoaning the fact that now he has to contend with TWO of us taking pictures all the time.  I was thinking it was really cute and was having fun connecting with Keiton over it, until Keiton showed me a series of photos with me in them; taken when I was unaware of a camera pointed my direction! He thought these horrible photos of me ("you look mad, mom!") were hilarious.  Suddenly, I wasn't too keen on the fact.

After we crossed the bridge we made our way to the Rockefeller Building to get tickets for the Top of the Rock Observation Deck.  We found we could get in right away which was awesome, but by this time it was almost 1:00 and most of us were starved.  So, we found a "by the slice" place place in the building, got it to go and enjoyed pizza on the observation deck.  Lunch with a view!  The best view!!  

I took a million photos from the observation deck, believe it or not.  It was pretty amazing to view NYC that way.

After we came down (43 seconds in the elevator), we headed towards Central Park with a stop at a store for some cold water which we were all craving and in need of.  Our water bottles were all completely empty by now and we were hot.  Amazing how much water we each need to consume in this humidity!  Amazing how much water comes off of us through sweat in this humidity!!

We rented bikes and pushed them the few blocks to Central Park before we got on.  It was a mad house riding those bikes, even on the designated bike lane.  Sooo many people on bikes or walking or whatever.  Central Park was an amazing place though.  Every nook and cranny of the huge park had something to offer.  To adequately explore it could take days, I am sure.  Because they did not provide bike racks along the trail, we only got off the bikes twice.  Once at the pond for a walk and bathroom stop with some down time on a grassy hill, and then again to see Belvedere Castle. 
One thing that surprised me about Central Park were the hills!!  I did not expect hills, but there were lots!  Some  pretty hefty ups that were challenging to ride.  ... and really fun downs!   Definitely got a good work out when all was said and done.

Returned the bikes about dinner time and headed back towards the hotel with intention of stopping to eat along the way, but didn't find anything before the subway station, so we were back in Brooklyn with a stop at our hotel before we finally ate a late dinner.  

We ended up at a corner Mexican restaurant, which from the outside didn't look like anything much, but from the crowd inside and how great our meal tasted, was certainly something!  It was great.
Back to hotel for showers, down time, prep for tomorrow (early morning) and much needed rest to end our day.

Sad news.  It was just before 11am when we walked up, all ready for ice cream!!

 New York Pizza on Top of the Rock!

View from Top of the Rock

Bike riding through Central Park

Break time in Central Park

Belvedere Castle in Central Park

Sunday, January 12, 2014

10 things from this past week

I said I needed to blog more so here goes.  Granted, this may be the only one for another very, very long while but at least it's something.

I don't know where to begin, so I'll just start with 10 things that took place this past week.

1.  I had a hard time getting back into the swing of things following break.  For some reason "structure" seemed like a swear word to me after a wonderful, relaxing break.  I slept in, had a house full of company pretty much the entire time, hosted Christmas, played numerous board/card games with my boys, took advantage of said house company and went out with my husband for double date nights with friends and goal setting with just him, etc.  It was SO NICE!  Structure is good though.   Even tonight as I look ahead to a VERY busy week I am more mentally prepared and OK with the structured routine that will take place.  Perhaps it just took a week to remind me of all the wonderful things that take place in a "regular" week around here and how I missed many of them.

2.  Went to MomsNext this past week for the first time.  Was invited by a good friend and it meets at a church very near here.  It was nice to meet other moms who have kids in school in the same age group and I enjoyed the conversation we had.  It meets just twice a month on an afternoon that I - technically - have free and it is low maintenance so I think I'll return.

3.  Was invited by a different friend to an area wide Prayer Retreat on Saturday morning.  I really enjoyed that. I was convicted that I should probably incorporate more silence and solitude into my life as well as many other thoughts/revelations during the time which very well may work their way into blog posts at some point!  I also really enjoyed the conversation my friend and I had on the way to and from the event.  It was meaningful and "real" and nice for both of us I think, that we had time to debrief with each other a little about how God had worked in us over the 3 hours.  I am glad she reached out and look forward to getting to know her better.

4.  We decided to go to Disneyland in February since we were going to be down there anyways.  Then we decided not too, due to budget issues and the fact that we cannot afford a big Disneyland trip and an almost 2 week Yellowstone vacation already planned for this summer.  And then we decided again that we would!  But... we are going to be one of those crazy families that just goes for ONE DAY!  I've already begun my research on how to make the most of it if you have just one day at Disneyland.  When my husband first suggested just one day (saving us on tickets, food and 2-3 nights hotel) I balked a little at it but then realized that we hope to do a summer vacation every year and won't EVER have the money to do both.  So, one day it is and we'll be fine and the boys won't know any different and they can say their parents took them!  Oh, but we have not told the boys. I don't know when we will.  Probably not until we are into our trip.

5.  The Seahawks won!  Definitely noteworthy.  Especially considering how much adrenaline I used up watching it!

6.  I visited Cil and family twice this week.  SO GREAT to get my baby girl fix!!  Miss Mia is absolutely adorable and perfect and I can't wait until the next time I see her.  Oh, and it was great to see Cil and visit with her too, of course!

7.  I LOVE living in a neighborhood.  Especially ours!  So thankful to God for His placement of us right here. 

8. Signed up for the CBS Leadership Conference in Portland in March and I can hardly wait!!  Have a roommate for it and friends to carpool with.  I was wondering how all the details were going to come together, and they just fell into place on Tuesday at L.C.  So thankful to God for that.

9.  Soren passed the ITBS testing for EAP in both reading and math.  Stll two more steps including another Saturday test (CogAT) in February for him to be accepted into the program.  We have not received word one way or the other about Keiton.

10.  Church today was great.  It is growing and it looks like we are jumping in with both feet now that the holidays are over.  Starting in Children's ministry next month and meeting with the leaders to figure out our role with small groups.  Excited about it all!

And there you go, 10 things that happened this past week.  Not very "deep" I realize but I will just plan to ease my way back into the blog-world.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Wow, just read through my blog-post journey of our first move.  I really should blog more...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

"Blessings." By Laura Story.

A song that has really touched me.  I heard it the first time just two days ago on the radio.  I love it and it is in line with the way my thoughts have gone the last few months.  The link to listen to the song is right below.  Below that (in case the link does not work) I've pasted the lyrics. 

Blessings, by Laura Story

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace

Comfort for family, protection while we sleep

We pray for healing, for prosperity

We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering

All the while You hear each spoken need

Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops

What if Your healing comes through tears?

What if a thousand sleepless nights

Are what it takes to know You're near?

What if trials of this life

Are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear

We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near

We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love

As if every promise from Your Word is not enough

And all the while You hear each desperate plea

And long that we'd have faith to believe

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops

What if Your healing comes through tears?

And what if a thousand sleepless nights

Are what it takes to know You're near?

And what if trials of this life

Are Your mercies in disguise?

When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win

We know that pain reminds this heart

That this is not, this is not our home

It's not our home

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops

What if Your healing comes through tears?

And what if a thousand sleepless nights

Are what it takes to know You're near?

What if my greatest disappointments

Or the aching of this life

Is the revealing of a greater thirst

This world can't satisfy?

And what if trials of this life

The rain, the storms, the hardest nights

Are Your mercies in disguise?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Rowles Family California & Yuma Spring Break Vacation - In Pictures

The Rowles family on the Sundial Bridge in Redding.  It was a wonderful night for a walk and so good to get out of the car and use our legs!

We stopped for an afternoon in Loma Linda where we had a wonderful picnic in the park with  former Willamette students.  Sarah and Jordan were there as well as Elise and Roshan.  WONDERFUL to catch up with these ladies.  A definite highlight of the vacation for me.

At the house that Jim and JoAnn rented for a couple of weeks in Yuma.  The house was perfect for us and we spent hours outside playing.  The weather was about 80-85 the entire time we were there.  PERFECT!

JoAnn got the boys squirt guns.  She only got two to begin with, so a quick trip to the store yielded another one for the "big" boy who had felt left out!  They kept the boys entertained for hours.

My place in the sun!  Yes, that is Layth mercilessly squirting Soren in the background!

Jim and JoAnn relaxing in the shade.  We ate most of our meals outside at this table.  We'd sit around it and talk following.  Love those warm nights!

We spent a lot of time in the river as well.  Layth and the boys taking a break to pose for a picture for me

The park was directly under an active railroad trestle.  Trains would come and stop regularly.  It was loud, but kinda cool.

Keiton on the beach near the river

My little brother who lives in Virginia with his wife and three girls happened to be IN YUMA on work-related issues the exact same time we were!  What a tremendous blessing for all of us to get to spend every evening with Uncle Kenny.  Here he is with the boys. 

And, here's my little bro and I the last night we were in town.  I thoroughly enjoyed every moment I got with him.  I only see him every few years so this was a HUGE treat for both of us!

We spent a morning/early afternoon in Mexico. Went to lunch, bought some stuff... and here we are waiting in line at the border crossing.

JoAnn bought a pinata for Keiton in Mexico and filled it with candy.  We then had an early birthday party for him.  The boys LOVED it!
Keiton getting ready to swing at the pinata

Keiton swinging at the pinata

Soren swinging at the pinata.  We eventually took the blindfold off the boys and they took turns swinging until it broke apart.

Here is Keiton showing off his portion of the Pinata candy.  I think we still have some left!

Keiton - at his Yuma 4th Birthday celebration.

One morning we left the house and went for a walk along the river.  It was wonderful! 

At the end of the walk was a HUGE castle playground where we spent quite a bit of time.  Here is Layth and I (me and my prince charming) in the castle.

Grandpa Jim and Keiton taking a break.

The Rowles family

On our way home, after a lunch stop at D.R. in Aliso Viejo, we drove to and stayed the night in Ventura, CA on the coast.  We took some time to walk out to the end of the Ventura pier - the longest pier in California.  It was beautiful.  Soren asked if he could take a picture so Layth and I posed.  Not to be left out, Keiton jumped in at the last minute.

Me and my boys on the pier

Layth and the boys on the pier

Here we are at the end with the mainland in the background.  It was beautiful; it really was.
And, that is a snapshot of our 2011 Spring Break Family Vacation.  It was wonderful and relaxing.  I'm ready to do it again!!