Family Alive

Brian, Kristine, Analise, and Josiah Toone

Archive for July, 2009

Day 5: Meeting family and making new friends

15th July 2009

Late Saturday evening, we pulled into Flatstaff, AZ, where we were going to stay with my cousin, Kip,and his family. I haven’t seen him in 10 years, and neither of us were married, and obviously no kids. Kip and his wife, Beth, met and married just a year before Brian and I, and they’ve got 2 sweet girls, Liza and Meg, ages 5 and 4, perfect for instant friendship with Analise and Josiah. The girls had beds and welcome signs made for their guests! So cute! And midway through our short (but long, bc they were all up before 7 to play!) morning together, Liza wanted to take Analise to introduce her to all the neighbors! We had such a fun time, and lucky for us, we’ll be seeing them again next week in Bend, OR!

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Day ??? Las Vegas

13th July 2009

Already lost count of how long we’ve been gone! So much I could tell, ‘cept that I’m exhausted from 3 total hours at the pool (over 2 visits), heat (like 113 during the day and 108 at 9pm!!!) and can’t manage to type much on the iPhone. But here are a couple glimpses…

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Day 3… to Carlsbad and the Bat Flight

10th July 2009

(writing and posted mostly from my iPhone, including the photos!)

After a lovely day visiting our friends at Mercy Ships yesterday (hopefully a recap post will come soon!), we drove all the way across Texas today, arriving at Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico about an hour before sunset. We were too late to see the caverns (on the agenda for first thing in the am), but we had planned all along to see the amazing nightly bat flight out of the cave.

The sun was just setting, and it was perfect timing. We sat in amphitheater above the descending entrance to the cave while the ranger gave an informative talk. There were speakers that picked up movement inside the bat cave, first quiet clicking, then it grew to static. At this point, the ranger stopped her talk abruptly, turned off the staticy speakers, which indicated much movement inside, and we all (like 200 people – a full amphitheater!) waited and held our breath, uncertain of what to expect.  A couple minutes later, tiny bats started coming out of the cave entrance, circling clock-wise, amassing right above the entrance, until they started flying out in huge groups, looking like smoke trails in the sky.  There were more at times, and then less at times, but the continued coming out of the cave for more than a half an hour, flying in huge groups in various directions.  The first groups even flew over us, and Brian felt like he could have reached up and touched them!  It was amazing to see.  There must have been hundreds of thousands of them.  Even Analise and Josiah were mesmerized and impressed.

Photos in the amphitheater were prohibited because the frequency emitted by cell phones and cameras can impede the bats echolocation.  But I snagged a couple photos before they started leaving just to show you the feel of the amphitheater and the cave entrance, and then a couple quick ones as we were walking up the trail away from the bats departure.  (I took them super quick and on the sly, as I was afraid my having my phone turned on would confuse the bats and I’d see them start crashing to the ground!  Thankfully, no bats were injured in the taking of these photos!) You can see the black-ish streaks in the dusk sky. I’m impressed with the photos, but still, it was nothing like seeing them so close in the amphitheater.  Very cool!

The entrance to the cave from the amphitheater

The crowds…

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Day 1… To Texas

8th July 2009

We’re still on the road, 10.5 hours after we finally set out this morning. We’re nearing Van, Tx, and we’ve been riniscing all day about out times at Mercy Ships, apart and when we first met, almost exactly 8 years ago. Fun, sweet memories.

Just wanted to share a quick pic from our short donut hole picnic alongside the mighty Mississippi. It was a much needed break during a very long day in the car (which, unfortunately, is only the first of many! Hopefully, they’ll get easier…).

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And we’re off!

7th July 2009

The Annual Toone Family Summer Road Trip starts tomorrow at 9am (hopefully!).  This one will be quite an adventure!  We’re heading west… seeing lots and lots of family and old friends along the way, doing lots of bike races (well, actually only 2 different but those two will consist of 9 total stages!)  I’ve got lots more chatter now that I’m actually sitting here blogging instead of writing a blog post in my head in the shower (rarely, rarely do those creative, inspiring posts make it to the computer!), but, alas, it’s 10:30 and I’ve got to get some sleep tonight so I’ll be patient and cheerful when my kids are bored and making me crazy on the 8 1/2 hour leg of the journey tomorrow.

Here’s the run-down (mileage/time according to Google Maps.  You can see the rudimentary journey here or I’ve inserted the actual map at the bottom…

  • Wednesday,  July 8th – Birmingham to Van, Texas (565 mi, 8 1/2 hrs); Staying with friends from Mercy Ships Nicaragua.  Hanging out at Mercy Ships and reconnecting on Thursday.
  • Friday, July 10th – Van, TX to Carlsbad, NM (538 mi, 9 1/2 hrs); With a super early departure and good traveling graces, we’re hoping to catch the sunset event of the bats leaving the Carlsbad Caverns and a short visit to the caves in the morning.
  • Saturday, July 11th – Carlsbad, NM to Flagstaff, AZ (624 mi, 10 1/4 hrs);  This will be a long day, staying with my cousin, his wife and their 2 girls.  Brian is excited to sleep “at altitude” for a night, as this will surely this will give him a competitive edge in 10 days when he races.  (It’s ok for my exercise scientist sisters to laugh.  I’m letting him believe it for the mental competitive edge!)
  • Sunday, July 12th – Flagstaff, AZ to Las Vegas (262 miles, 4 1/4 hrs).  Brian’s going to ride with my cousin before we leave Flagstaff, we’ll make a short visit to the Grand Canyon just an hour north, before heading out on the shortest leg of our entire journey.
  • Sunday, July 12th to Wednesday, July 15th – Staying at the Monte Carlo in Las Vegas while Brian presents at a conference.  Awfully excited to just hang out at our nice hotel that has a wave pool and a lazy river, along with 2 pools.  Sweet!  Who knows what else we’ll do in Las Vegas?  Any free-cheap suggestions welcome…
  • Wednesday, July 15th – Las Vegas, NV to Davis, CA (584 mi; 9 hrs); Arriving in our old hometown of Davis, the start of our lives as a family of 2 and of 3!  Analise is so excited to see where she was born.  We’re so excited to go back and see all our old friends.
  • Wednesday, July 15th to Monday, July 20th – Staying with the Hafflys.  Woohoo!
  • Monday, July 20th – Davis, CA to Bend, OR (429 mi, 7 1/2 hrs).  A gorgeous drive.  Staying at a super-nice hotel on Monday night, after we bid $40 on Priceline… our bid was accepted and upgraded.  Sweet!
  • Tuesday, July 21st to Sunday, July 26th – Staying at a townhouse in Bend with my family, my aunt/uncle, cousin/wife/2 little girls (from Flagstaff!), my sister/brother-in-law.  A mini-family reunion!  Brian’s racing in the Cascades Cycling Classic.  It’s a BIG race, and it will be quite an adventure to cheer him on through the tough, pro race.   6 different stages, lots of climbing, a very strong field.  By the way, I tweet live updates of his racing @ToonesFanClub, in case you want to follow what’s happening!
  • Sunday, July 26th –  Bend, OR to Fort Collins, CO (1,065mi, 16 1/2 hrs). We’ll start heading east after the bike race ends mid afternoon, hopefully make it to Salt Lake City.
  • Monday, July 27th – Fort Collins, CO. Staying with a friend from UW-Green Bay.
  • Tuesday, July 28th – Fort Collins, CO to Denver, CO (60 mi, 1 hr). Actually THIS will be the shortest leg of the journey.  Visiting my sweet sister, Kat, seeing whatever she wants to show us of her new hometown.
  • Wednesday, July 29th or Thursday, July 30th – Denver, CO to Aurora, IL (967 mi, 14 hrs).
  • Thursday, July 30th to Sunday, August 2nd – Aurora/Elk Grove, IL – Staying with another UW-Green Bay friend, visiting dear friends, while Brian races in the Tour of Elk Grove Friday to Sunday.
  • Sunday, August 2nd – Elk Grove, IL to La Porte, IN  (104 mi, 2hrs); Staying with my Grandma and visiting her until mid-day Monday.
  • Monday, August 3rd – La Porte, IN to Birmingham, AL (627 mi, 10 1/2 hrs).  A stretch of road we’ve driven many, many times.  Straight down I-65, this will bring us home again after nearly 3 1/2 weeks.

What a crazy adventure!  Look for updates from my iPhone… If you’re on our route, we can’t wait to see you!  If you’re not… feel free to come on over to our route at any point… we’ll work you in!
View Out West – July, 2009 in a larger map

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