Sunday, October 31, 2010

Colorado Trip Highlights {Part 1}

I have so much to document about our trip to Greeley, CO over MEA weekend (October 21-24), that I decided to break the trip highlights into parts. Our first official adventure began Friday morning, Oct 22nd, when our hostess & event planner, Kathy, took us to the Wild West Corn Maze in a nearby town of Hudson, CO. Kathy, always loving a surprise, kept us all in the dark on where we would be going and what we would be doing. The only info we got ahead of time was to wear comfortable shoes & dress for the 45 degree weather.
This advertisement on the side of the highway was our first glimpse of what we would be doing that day; however, knowing we were visiting a corn maze really didn't give us any insight on what eventually unfolded.
When we marched on up to the Ticket booth, we should have noticed that we were the only car in the parking lot.
However, since we were there right at opening time of 10:00 AM, we didn't give it a second thought. In fact, we were patting each other on the back because we were FIRST! Unfortunately, there was no one at the ticket booth. We could see a few pickup trucks near one of the outbuildings, so we decided since we were early, we should just as well walk on up anyway.

The closer we got, the more and more it looked like it wasn't opened. First, we were the only car in the parking area. Second, there were no employees to be found. Poor Kathy was just worried sick because this was her big surprise, but she held it together. By now, we saw Zipline sign and Kathy told us she planned for us to be able to go on it. Kippy was spastic and bouncing up and down at the thought of it. Steve boldly knocked on a door marked "Employees Only". We met, Kyle, who informed us that they didn't open until 5:00 PM, but we were more than welcome to go check out the corn maze. Kathy asked Kyle if there was anyway we could do the zipline. Kyle said we would have to wait until 5:00 PM when the rest of the staff was available. Hearts sank and Kippy whispered to me, "Does this mean we can't do the zipline?"

Kathy then confided to Kyle, "My friends came over 800 miles this weekend and I really wanted to take them on the zipline. Is there anyway you can help us out?"

Kyle said he would try to make some calls and see what he could do. Kathy gave Kyle her cellphone number and Kyle gave us maps of the maze, which turned out to be the World's Largest Corn Maze, with over 12 miles of maze to traverse. Based on the size of the maze, we decided to go back to the car to get water bottles for the adventure.

On our way back to the maze entrance, Kyle came out to meet us and asked, "Would you be able to do the zipline now?" Apparently, he made a quick call and got the help needed to man the zipline. Talk about a turn around! We went from disappointment to ULTIMATE HAPPINESS in less than 5 minutes.

The zipline was 700 feet long and began on a scissor lift 43 feet in the air. Jake was the zipline expert (and a semi-pro bull rider) who helped us to get into the harness gear and helmets. I referred to the harness as "cheek-chillers" since they perfectly outline our behinds.

We could go up on the scissor lift two at a time, so Abby & Angelique went up first. Surprisingly, Angelique started to get nervous at the last minute, so Abby ended up being the one to offer encouragement to her and had to go first on the zipline. Abby LOVED it and this helped Kippy get past her nervousness. I'll have to admit, it was unnerving for me to see both of my girls 43 feet up in the air. Next up, Kathy & me. Now, this is probably a good time to point out that my dear friend, Kathy, is teeny-tiny bit afraid of heights and was trying very, very hard not to back out on the whole adventure. As it turned out, Kathy went before me and she said that since I was calm and reassuring she was able to go. Then it was my turn, I couldn't wait. I had to do a little upside down action on my zipline to add a little more adrenalin.

Last up, was Steve and he was more than ready to take the leap off the lift. Lucky for him, he got to be the fastest across the zipline. Something to do with gravity and mass. Kyle and Jake saved the day for us and all 5 of us got to have first time Zip-Line experiences.

The girls both wanted to ride it again, but with the worlds largest corn maze ahead of us, we figured we had better get a move on it. This is an aerial view of the maze, which we were given maps of as well. Throughout the maze, there are 24 spots with unique hole punches to mark the map. If we could collect all 24 punches, we would be added to the coveted wall of fame & enter a drawing for a plasma TV.
After 1 1/2 hours of being lost in this gigantic maze {from Hell}; we seriously had to amend our original 24 punch goal. We ended up being very happy just to score TWO punches. I am not kidding you, this maze is extremely hard and it didn't seem to matter what we did, we just continued to get lost. The best part, was that everyone kept a great attitude and looked at it as an adventure. The kids didn't whine and we had a ton of laughs especially when we thought about how confident we were when we started out. Amateurs!
Kathy planned ahead and packed a picnic lunch for us, which we enjoyed right on top of the Kiddy Bale-Maze {in hindsight this maze would have probably been more our speed}. And in the Bytnar tradition of rating experiences on a scale of 1 to 10, when Kathy counted to three, we all revealed our rating for the day...
as she snapped a picture. Four 10's all around!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Girlfriend therapy

What more could a girl want than to be with two of her besties for her birthday? It certainly was a treat for me. HH & I left for Sioux Falls early Friday AM to meet LR, who was driving up from Omaha. We took time for lunch and quickly worked on catching up on one another's lives. We went to a salon school and had pedi's. Needless to say, the pedi-performers could use a little more "training". We sure got a lot of laughs out of it, but doubt if we will ever repeat it. Next we got in a little retail therapy. I had forgotten how great it is to get honest opinions about how things look. I love my peeps! Supper was downtown at the Phillips Avenue Diner. Delish - plus the pumpkin cheese cake was the best birthday cake I could have ever wanted! Yummers. We stayed up very late talking and laughing until we cried. Seriously - HH & LR are hILaRiOus!! Saturday started out with treasure hunting {Savers} and more retail therapy. By mid-afternoon, we were ready for school. Our schooling consisted of a private class to learn how to make bracelets and earrings at the Bead Company. HH & LR caught on WAY faster and completed more projects than I did, but they still let me hang out with them, so it's all good. By the end of the day, it did get a little sad because we know our time together would be ending soon. Our final splurge was the Sin Of The Day at Sinful Things Gourmet Desserts. Oh my! WOwwY-wOw-woW! I went for the Ultimate Sin... strawberry cheesecake sandwiched between rich chocolate cake. Yup - I ate the whole thing. It was the first time in my life that I ate cake for my supper and I don't regret it a bit! I came home with my spirit lifted, my energy replenished and with a very happy heart. Thank you so very much HH & LR!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Iris in October??!!

Here is something I never, ever would have believed if it hadn't happened in my own flower bed. Iris blooming in October... actually on October 19th, to be exact. The only person I really want to show this to is my Grandma Ruth, who loved iris and whose birthday is on October 23rd.
I know she would love it as much as me.
It certainly is a tribute to the particularly mild, warm Fall we have been blessed with this year.

Monday, October 18, 2010

We have a winner!

Congratulations, Lori! You are the winner of the Road{kill}ID based on the random number generator.... of 5 whole comments! ;-) I'll get it in the mail to you this week. Let me know how it turns out!

Birthday blessings for Heather

She sees the beauty in every day things; she inspires me; she encourages me; she supports me.

She lifts my spirt; she counsels me; she prays for me; she is a gift.She is a kindred spirt; she accepts me; she is my sister-friend.
Happy birthday, Heather!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Road Kill identification and a *GIVEAWAY*

About 8 months ago, back when I was training for the Fargo Half Marathon, my mom told me about my dad being worried that I would get hurt running on the busy streets and highways. I was logging some fairly consistent and long runs back then {not so much now} and it got me thinking about what would happen if I did get hit while out running. Around the same time, I read a blog from a runner in the Twin Cities, who had a custom ID bracelet.
I looked into it and decided that road{Kill} identification would be a good thing... so I ordered it through I got to pick the color and vital information... my name, birth year {so the coroner would know how old I was}, who to call, blah, blah, blah. The best part tho' was that I could include a little motivational message to myself.
I chose "Run It Out!", which is a little mantra I like to chant {in my head} when the going gets tough. I try to remember to wear the bracelet when I am out running and I guess I manage to do it about 80% of the time. I figure I will never win against getting hit by a car, etc... so that's why I call it my roadKill id, but I guess if I have heat exhaustion or something, perhaps someone would find it useful and could call any of the phone numbers listed on it. Ya never know!

So on to the *GIVEAWAY*... I have a $15.00 gift certificate good for any purchase from RoadID, which I will give away on Sunday, October 17th. If you are interested, just leave a comment on this blog and let me know what motivational message you would include on your bracelet. I'll do a random drawing from the entries and mail out the certificate to the winner. This is my first giveaway and I am SO excited!!

**Post script** There are lots of options for bracelets from RoadID, which have different prices. The one I chose, was $19.99, plus $1.49 shipping and handling.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Exploration of Itasca State park

We took a day-trip to do some exploring at Itasca State Park with our very good friends, the Hubert family. It was the 2nd day of October and of course, the Fall foliage was at its peak.
One of our first stops was the beautiful, sparkling water marking the beginning of the Mississippi River.
And the required picture beside the Mississippi Headwaters sign {Please note: You are witnessing an optical illusion, because Abby is not taller than me. We are the same height.... for now.}
The temperature was a brisk 45 degrees and much too cold for the kids to go wadding in; however, they did look longingly at the water and ventured poking their hands in a few times.
Two of the braver girls asked if they could take their shoes off, roll their pants up and get in. That was a big, fat sack of "No".
So, off they went running down one of the many hiking trails which were well padded with crunchy, brown leaves.
Always stopping to find little treasures, like a beautiful leaf. Unfortunately, Abby thought this huge daddy long-leg was a treasure. It gave me the {shivers}... bluck!
Occasionally, some map consultation had to take place to accurately take us to the next destination.
It was a sunny, cool and peaceful day with not a lot of people.

It was sweatshirt weather for sure. Love this picture of the daddies with two of the daughters. Melts my heart every time!
all against a gorgeous blue sky.
Couple that with time spent with my sister-at-heart... priceless!
One of our family's favorite places at Itasca is the fire tower; alas, not everyone loves it as much as the Lindgrens. Heather chose to stay on the ground with Bella, while Kami later wished she had stayed back as well.There is Heather with Miss Bella on the bench.
The 360 degree views were breathtaking.

And here is Steve with the kids who were actually smiling at the top of the tower. Sadly, Kami was NOT smiling and was being helped down by her dad.
It really was a perfect day to explore Itasca. I am so grateful we could partner with the Hubert family (minus Miranda) on this trip.
Bella really enjoyed all the attention the 5 girls bestowed on her. It was a fantastic day.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

As of 10.10.2010, Angelique is 10 years old

captured at 10:00 AM this morning. She had better live it up because the stars will only align two more times in her lifetime, when she will be eleven on 11.11.11 and twelve on 12.12.12.
And I love that she has been in a GREAT mood on this fun day even tho' she is running short on sleep! She is my!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

a-MAZE-ing time!

The corn maze at Potters Way outside of Oakes, ND was a great experience again this year. This is the third year in a row that our kids have gotten to go to and the 2nd year for Steve & I. The Potters Way family make it so much fun by changing up the theme each year.
The theme this year was Game Show games. You have to answer the questions correctly to find your way out.
The questions were trixie... I am serious. I won't tell you the right answer as it would spoil the fun.
When you went the wrong way... you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that you had blown it.
Maybe it was because we debated each question and formed a consensus between Steve, Grandma Rose, Abby and me before choosing the answer/direction. {Bella was no help whatsoever.}
Seriously, we picked the wrong answer so many times, I thought we would be in the MAZE for ever!
Logan and Kippy ran through the maze ahead of us and apparently never got a question wrong (according to them).
They even came back to help us out since we were taking so long.

But I don't really believe they knew the answers any better than we did!
It was an amazing time for the cousins. My mom told me a quote which is so very true. "Grandma's house, where cousins become friends."
I love when they have a chance to spend time together.
After the corn maze, we all boarded the pumpkin express to make our pumpkin selections.
Some top quality specimens were chosen.
Fall is my favorite time of the year! It was truly a great Fall afternoon with family, corn, pumpkins & laughter. My love bucket runneth over.