One Wednesday, July 18, we left our house bright and early. It's an 8 1/2 hour drive and we were excited to get there. We were lucky enough to have Grandpa Allen along for the fun. We picked him up and off we went. We go to Las Vegas to visit family often so they are very familiar with the route to get there. Knowing that Reno is in Nevada, Ethan promptly told Jared that he was going the wrong way. "Dad, you're on the wrong freeway. Nevada is the other way." We both laughed. Thankfully Grandpa was sitting next to him. He pulled out his iphone and showed Ethan where Reno was on the map and showed him the route we would be taking to get there. Ethan is like Jared, they both love maps. They both had a fantastic time watching our progress on the maps with our iphones
When we arrived, I could not believe how gorgeous it was! I had never been to Reno and I totally expected something different. Their home is up in the mountains in the middle of a forest. We were all in heaven! We had a fabulous time hiking and exploring. Ethan and Sadie were completely in their element.
Can you see the deck in the background? It's huge and beautiful and the perfect place to relax and enjoy this incredible place. Shortly after we arrived, Ethan and Sadie found this huge rock. I'm not sure why, but they decided it looked like a stegosaurus. For the rest of the trip they were constantly playing on and meeting at the stegosaurus. It was darling.
Here's Jared and Uncle Eldon grilling hamburgers for dinner. That's Ranger on the ground. Eldon and Linda have three dogs. They are Zero, Ranger and Audrey. Audrey is a little poodle and Sadie fell in love with her. She was constantly taking her on adventures. When we left to come home, Sadie cried. She didn't want to leave Audrey.
Here's my Dad and Eldon.
Eldon and Linda live by Linda's sister, Karen and her husband Jan. They had this hammock in their yard that was the total hit with the kids. Here's Abby chilling and begging for me to take a picture of her in it. "So I can always remember, mom". She cracks me up!
Thursday morning, Eldon and Linda took us to see Virginia City. Virginia City is where all the massive amounts of silver were mined from during the 1870's, the Comstock Lode. It was once one of the richest cities in the world. Not that they got to keep any of it, obviously. However, it's still a quaint old western town with rustic boardwalks and old saloons. Jared was a little disappointed that most of the saloons have been converted to tourist shops, no dancers or alcohol for him. By the way, I'm totally kidding. We all loved Virginia City, even though it did rain most of the day.
Sadie loves dogs almost as much as jewelry. It was no surprise that she made friends with this cute, little thing in the jewelry store.
Are you wondering if Jenna was on this trip with us? Indeed she was. However, she is going through a "Don't take my picture!" phase. Not to worry though, she is in a few that I insisted upon.
After exploring Virginia City and then eating lunch at a delicious Mexican restaurant there, we headed over to Carson City. For all you geography buffs, that's the capitol of Nevada. We explored their government buildings, something that is right up Jared's alley, and had fun running around on the gorgeous grounds. They have the hugest trees there! Aunt Linda took this picture of all of us there. I look like a giant compared to everyone else! And why is Jared hiding behind me?!?!
Friday morning we all went to a place called Animal Ark. It's this really neat place where they take animals that have been hurt or for some reason can't be released into the wild. They create a natural habitat for them there and we were fortunate enough to visit. A huge thank you to Eldon and Linda for taking us there. It was so fun, we all had a fabulous time.
We got there in time to see them feed the bears. They hide the food and then the bear tries to find where it is. It was fascinating to watch him get all of his food.
This was my favorite one. I loved watching that bear play tether ball. We all laughed and laughed as that bear attacked that ball. He seemed to be having a great time playing, and we were having a great time watching.
After Animal Ark we had a picnic. I love picnics, I don't why, I just always have. The kids played on the playground while the adults visited. It was peaceful and fun. After that we headed over to see the Reno LDS Temple. It's one of the smaller ones. Linda told me that you have to make reservations to do a session.
Here's our little family at the temple. So grateful for the sealing power found in the temple that allows me to be with these awesome people for eternity. I can't imagine my life without them.
So, here's the thing. Jared went on his mission to Spain. Part of his time was spent in the Basque country. He loved it there. He was so excited to learn that there is a huge Basque population in this part of Nevada. Friday night we all decided to go to an authentic Basque restaurant. It was about an hour away in a town called Gardnerville. There was some debate as to which restaurant we would eat at because we had received conflicting opinions. We were so glad that we ended up eating at J.T.'s. The other restaurant looked empty, which seemed strange on a Friday night, while J.T.'s was packed.
Basque restaurants serve their meals "family style". This was a new experience for me, my dad and the kids. Jared, Eldon and Linda had eaten Basque food before so they were the old pros. They started by bringing us the soup of the day, which was a vegetable pasta soup. It was delicious. Even Little Miss Picky Pants, AKA Sadie, loved it. They brought sourdough bread out with the soup. I seriously could have eaten 10 loaves myself, it was soooooooo good. Next came salad. After that came the sides for the day. These were tongue stew and baked beans. Let's discuss tongue stew for a minute, shall we? I'm sorry, but I can't eat the stuff. I know, I know, it's so good and tender. However, I can't get past what it is to eat it. Jared did finally convince me to eat one bite of the meat, or tongue in this case, and it made me gag. Again, not because of the taste, but because of what it is.
The best part about this is that all the kids ate it and loved it. I was quite surprised by this. I should tell you that I was sitting by Sadie and all the other kids were on the other side of Jared. When we were driving back to the house after dinner, I mentioned to the kids that I was surprised they all ate and loved the tongue stew. I get this huge, "WHAT!" from the backseat. Apparently, Jared told them it was beef stew, so they all devoured it. I look at Jared and he says, "What? It's tongue from a cow, that makes it beef stew." FYI that is sooooo not the same thing!!! Needless to say, Jenna was completely grossed out and Ethan and Abby decided they love tongue. Sadie was with Eldon and Linda in their car so she missed out on this conversation.
After that they bring the entree you choose out with french fries. Can I just say, I did not see that coming! The french fries were awesome and supposedly just what they eat with their meals. At least that's what Jared said. Sadie was thrilled. They put this huge platter of fries in the center of the table right in front of her. She thought they were all for her! She is so funny! After that we finished off with ice cream. I was so full I thought I was going to die! It was all so delicious and I would totally eat somewhere like that again.
Abby, Uncle Eldon, Aunt Linda, Dad
Jenna, Ethan, Jared, Sadie
I love this picture of my two boys!
Saturday morning we were off to Lake Tahoe. I had never been there, but I fell in love immediately. I cannot say enough about how beautiful it was there. This place was astounding.
We all had so much fun playing in the lake. At the risk of sounding cheesy, it was a beautiful morning that I found to be totally relaxing and perfect. Few things make me as happy as being surrounded by my family, laughing and just having fun together.
See, I told you Jenna came on the trip with us! :)
Aren't they so beautiful, I adore these girls so much!
My handsome boys! They were such good sports to take a break from playing ball to pose for my picture.
The Truckee River flows from Lake Tahoe through downtown Reno and into Pyramid Lake. There's a pedestrian walkway that runs through downtown Reno on each side of the Truckee River. There's shops and restaurants along the walkway and there's a big park towards the end of it. We took the kids there for lunch on Saturday. Aunt Linda had told us that it's really fun to play in the Truckee River, so the youngest three kids went equipped to have some fun in the water.
I teased Jenna and asked her if she was "too cool for the pool" since she didn't want to get in the river. She teased me back and asked why I wasn't in the river. I informed her that it was my job to be the photographer so we could remember this trip forever. She informed me that she was keeping Grandpa company. She is growing up so fast and frequently makes me laugh. I love this picture of the two of them together on the side of the river.
We were all exhausted after our afternoon at the river. We began the drive back to Eldon and Linda's house. We were almost there when the girls and I spotted a Charming Charlie. If you aren't familiar with this store it's a girl's paradise. The whole store is accessories of every kind. There's jewelry, hats, purses, shoes, etc. It's a really fun place to go, that is, if you're a girl. Jared, Ethan and my dad went to do whatever men do when girls shop. The girls and I went in for a fun adventure. Yes, they were still in their swimming clothes from the river, but that wasn't going to stop us. I was busy looking at something when Sadie stopped me and said, "Mom, can I have this?" I burst out laughing and grabbed my phone for a picture.
The next thing I know, Abby has convinced Jenna to put on a hat and the rest, as they say, is history.
Don't you love the look on Sadie's face! Seriously, where did this child come from? She is such a hoot!!! Sadly, we didn't buy any hats that day. Even more sad though, is whoever did buy those hats after my girl's hair was in the Truckee River before they put them on!!! I suppose that's one reason to never buy a hat. :)
All in all, we had a fabulous trip. A huge thank you to Uncle Eldon and Aunt Linda for being great hosts. You guys are so awesome, we love you tons!!! On Saturday night, as we got ready for bed, Ethan said, "I think we should make this an annual trip." I think he might be right!