Summer Catchup, Part 2

**I hate putting pictures on Blogger.  Why do they make it so dang complicated?  So, I put pictures on Facebook here. And if the link doesn't work, just go to my profile on Facebook and find our Summer Adventures album.**

I know you guys only REALLY want to hear about how we're getting settled in in I've decided to do a highlights list for the sake of brevity. (It's still not very short...okay, it's SUPER long...but quicker than typing paragraph style, for sure.) We had a wonderful time visiting our family and if I left anything out, forgive me.

First stop in July: visiting my mom and co. at the Bates Family Reunion.  Some highlights:
  • Getting to see my mom's new house! It is beautiful and VERY big. 
  • Having our own room all to ourselves (trust me, that's a luxury at a Bates Reunion).  
  • Spending time with Hana & new hubby Austin.  So much many adventures...
  • Including ROCK CLIMBING!! I went rock climbing! ME! I thought I was going to die from fear of heights but I made it.  (Don't worry, it was only like 40 feet.  I think.)
  • Going to the craft fair with Tim.  I love that he doesn't complain about going.
  • Getting two bags of books for $7.00 at the annual Valley of the Tetons Library book sale.  We actually went there the day before to pick out books since my mom has the hookup, but the crabby librarian said it "wouldn't be fair" to other patrons to buy ours first.  Whatever.  We went back the next day and were able to find most of the books we'd set aside. (We hid them in a box all together.) We even found a little reader from 1874, and a copy of The Prophet in a really nice case.  Tim was super excited about that.
  • Huckleberry shakes from the Victor Emporium.  Need I say more?
  • Dinner at Bubba's with Hana & Austin.
  • Talking with my mom about her life and how she grew up.  So fascinating.  I think she is amazing.
  • Seeing Aunts and family members I haven't seen in a long time--Aunt Frana, Aunt Brenda, Aunt Ruth, Keola, Angela & kids, and of course all of George & Susan's beautiful children.
  • Taking Tim down the Darby Slide and reminiscing with Han about all of our Girl's Camp memories...bittersweet.  We had some good times there.
  • Trying to put together a puzzle of a herd of buffalo with Tim and Austin.  Might as well take a picture of the blue sky and make that a puzzle.  Jeez.
On our way back to Utah, we went up to Tim's family cabin in Island Park to spend some time with his Uncle Danny & Aunt Susie and co.  It was appropriate to visit them at the cabin, seeing as that was how I first met them way back when Tim and I were engaged.  That first visit was a blast, and I remember having so much fun with their family.  I'm glad we could go back for Round 2. Here are some of our adventures:

  • Playing games Stratford style.  This family in particular LOVES games.  Tim and I's favorites this trip: Back & Forth and Time's Up.  The great thing about Danny & Susie's family is that they aren't competitive--they just like to play to have fun.  It makes it so much more enjoyable.
  • Making the best paninis you've ever tasted (thanks Paige, for hauling the panini maker up on the shuttle when Danny & Susie forgot it...)
  • Floating down the Buffalo River, where Tim got an incredibly painful sunburn because he left the sunscreen I specifically brought for him in the car after taking it out of my purse--but I'm not bitter.
  • Going off a rope swing into the Buffalo. C-c-c-old!
  • Building the best campfire ever.  And roasting homemade marshmallows on it.
  • Everyone freaking out when we thought there was a huge spider on Dan's sock.  Turns out it was a fuzz ball.
  • Kenzie freaking out and jumping into my arms sobbing when a real spider came along minutes later. (Obviously, she has a strong fear of spiders.)
  • Aunt Susie laughing at Kenzie when she should have been trying to comfort her because the whole situation was just so funny.  Really.  You just had to have been there.
After our wonderful cabin adventures, we came down to Utah and stayed with Tim's step-dad and mom, Todd & Jill Devereaux.  We were about to embark on the annual family camping trip to Circleville, Utah.  Somehow Tim and I have never gotten around to going, so this summer was the perfect opportunity.  Here are our Circleville memorable moments:
  • Seeing so much wildlife and being in the beautiful mountains!  
  • Going camping in general.  It was great just to be in the open air.
  • Walking to their hand-fishing spot (see below) through a beautiful gorge.
  • Partaking in the annual tradition of going fishing with your hands.  You lie down on the banks of the cold, soggy river, stick your hands in there, and feel into the cracks and crevices looking for fish.  Once you feel something slimy, pin it against the rock side and then flip it out of the water.  Marvel at your skills, and then release it back to its watery home.  Needless to say, I did not catch a fish.  But I did get very wet and very cold.
  • Riding back from hand-fishing in the back of Todd's truck.
  • Getting Todd's truck stuck up to the axles in a mud sinkhole because there were way too many people on the truck.
  • Spending the next couple hours barefoot in cold mud, trying to dig the truck out.  In the rain.  And thunder and lightning.  In already-wet clothes.  Luckily, the boys did most of the work and eventually Brian had to walk back to camp to get his truck to pull out Todd's truck.  
  • Sitting in the back of Brian's truck while he tried to pull it out.  Several times. Sarah, Brian's wife, said, "Have we said a prayer yet?" Someone said, "I think we've all just been praying in our hearts."  Sarah said she'd offer a prayer out loud for our group.  In the middle of her prayer, we felt a huge jolt and the truck came loose.  A small miracle!  
  • Sleeping in a leaky tent during a rainstorm with a thin sleeping bag that didn't zip together with Tim's.  Sad face.
When we got back to Provo, we spent some time with my dad and crew, which included lots of time at the Beachleys.  Good times ensued.  Here are some:
  • Spending time with the Beachleys in general.  Who wouldn't want to be around these guys?
  • Pat and Carol.
  • Luke & Teri's puppy, Voltron.  He is so cute.  And snuggly.
  • Getting to see my brother, Sterling, arrive safely home from his year-long tour on Afghanistan.  Very special.
  • Surprise visit from Chelsea and Kai!  Soooo glad they were able to come.  And who can ever get enough of Kai?
  • Seeing cousin Aubry too!  
  • Seeing all of the Juarez siblings in one spot except for one (we missed you, Carrie).
  • Playing Dogslobber with my dad.  Just like old times.
  • Playing "Pictagraph."  Luke named it.  It's always funnier when you are playing with funny people.
  • Seeing Teri's interpretive drawing of a woman flashing kids at a pool.  I'll get it scanned in for you.  It's classic.
Then, we were off to our trip to LA to visit Tim's dad, Dave, and his girlfriend, Jill.  Some highlights:
  • Spending the day at Disneyland with Tim!  It was an excellent day, thanks to Danny & Susie's excellent Disneyland advice.  They do Disneyland like old pro's.  
  • Going on lots of fun rides with Tim, including Indiana Jones, our favorite. 
  • Almost dying (seriously) on the Tower of Terror.  I was so scared I couldn't even scream.  They take you all the way up so you can look up and see how high you are, and THEN they free fall you.  Aaaand then do it again.  And again.  My hands are sweating just thinking about it.  I was shaking for about an hour afterward.
  • Seeing Jill, Dave, Gabe, Zach, and Kimberly.  
  • Eating Dave's lighter-than-air waffles.  Always a treat.
  • Going to so many wonderful restaurants with Dave and Jill.  Every time we visit, they have somewhere new they want to take us.  Everywhere we ate always served "the best [whatever it was we ate] we ever had."  Including that heavenly lasagna.  Oh man.  You've never tasted such lasagna.
  • Of course, the highlight of our trip (for Tim, especially): seeing Les Miserables in LA.  It was a wonderful production and we had such a good time!  Tim STILL hasn't stopped singing Les Mis.
  • Getting the rest of Tim's interviewing suit paraphernalia! He now is the proud owner of a complete suit.  And it looks SOOOO good.  
  • The Binge.  Dave and Jill started a detox diet and Tim was more than thrilled to be there to particpate in the pre-detox Binge Days.  (Tim should be on a perpetual Binge Diet.)  We went to Pink's (a famous hot dog stand) with Dave and let's just say that there was a generous amount of food consumed.  See Facebook for proof.
  • Spending some time with Debbie, The Pooge, and newly-returned missionary Grant in St. George on our way back.  Our time was brief, but refreshing.  And as always, we got to partake in some of Debbie's delicious cooking.  
Our last leg of the Utah trip was spent at Todd and Jill's, where we were able celebrate a 50th Wedding Anniversary and a missionary send-off.  Good things that happened there:
  • A Stratford get-together at Danny & Susie's, complete with fireworks show for the 24th of July and plenty of game-playing.  We stayed there till 2 in the morning.
  • Watching Tim throw a firecracker up in the air, seeing it drift in the wind, and then land right in the middle of all the family spectators.  To quote Susie, "I've never seen Andrew move that fast."
  • Seeing the melted soccer blanket from the firecracker fiasco.
  • Watching Uncle Danny light firecrackers.  God didn't give him sons because He knew that they would have been killed by reckless pyromaniac techniques.
  • Celebrating Grandma & Grandpa Johnson's 50th wedding anniversary, and seeing all the Stratford-Devereaux clan one last time.
  • Watching Andrew, Tim's brother, give his mission farewell on Sunday.  He's 22 years old and I couldn't be more proud of him for deciding to serve.  He's headed to the Dominican Republic.
  • Laughing when Andrew said he was going to cross out the "Banana' and write in "Dominican" on all his shirt labels.
  • Steph had her baby girl!  Marissa Alia Pruitt was born on her due date, exactly on schedule: July 25th.  And that means I got to hold her when we went to visit later in the week!
  • Seeing Andrew off on his mission at the MTC on Wednesday.  Curbside drop-off.  
  • Getting one last night with the girlies: Debbie, Nikki, Hayley, Hana, Missy.  I will miss them so much.  Grilling potential husband-to-be, John, to make sure he was up to snuff. (He was.)
  • Spending time with the Clarks and baby Jeremiah one last time.  He gets so much cuter as he gets older!  Ari and I already have plans to make our children wed.  (I WILL be having a girl first, of course.)
After all this was time for our 20 hour drive to Kirksville, MO to see Mark, Stephanie, and 5-day old Marissa.  Here's our list:
  • Drove.  A lot.  Luckily, we had made 8 CD's of music we both liked when we were at Danny & Susie's house, so that made the drive a lot more enjoyable.
  • Sorry to anyone who may be from Nebraska--but every time we stopped for lunch and saw the locals, we were only too happy to keep driving.  It firmed my resolve for not living in the middle of nowhere with nothing to look at.
  • On the other hand, the sky is the most beautiful shade of blue and it's so BIG!  No mountains getting in the way out there.
  • Tried to book a cheap hotel to stay in Kirksville, and after calling about 3 or 4 hotels, realized there was a reunion of some sort for the Alpha Phi Kappa Charlie Radio Kansas organization (or something like that) and that ALL the hotels were booked.  All of them!
  • Staying in a cheap motel about 40 minutes away from our destination.  Luckily, the next night Stephanie's friend was kind enough to let us stay with them.
  • Getting to see THE BABE!  The first thing I thought when I looked at her was that she looked exactly like Mark.  Seriously.  She is a Mini-Mark.  The only thing of Stephanie's she MIGHT have is her nose.
  • Our first reintroduction to full humidity.  Yay.  Or not so yay.
  • Spending time with Aunt Becky and Vanessa, who were there too, and playing lots of Bananagrams and Set games.  
  • Holding that sweet morsel of a child.  So cute.
  • Going to the local farmer's market with Stephanie, Tim, and Vanessa.
  • Eating fresh cantaloupe from the farmer's market.
We were sad to leave on Sunday, but also excited about our drive to Nashville.  Only 9 hours there!  This post is way too long already, so I'll stop there, but I have sooo much to tell you about Nashville.  Hopefully, it will be coming soon.  Also, don't forget about the pictures on Facebook!

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