Sunday, July 15, 2012

On the road again...

This was our view on the way home from our Utah/Idaho trip. The skies were amazing the whole time. I bet Ryan and Wendy got sick of me telling them to look up at it. As a kid, someone once told me that southern California has beautiful sunsets because of the smog. They must have never been to another state. The skies took my breath away. Even at night, when it seems like you can see every single star in the universe.  It's one of the few things Idaho has over California. Good show Idaho. Until next time.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Hansen Family Reunion

Our family lucked out this year and we got to have our reunion on Uncle Roy-Dan-the-Mountain-Man's Ranch in Downey Idaho. Uncle Roy Dan is a real mountain man. He came very close to being on the t.v. show "Survivor," and I know he would have got very far. He is a character. Wealthy business men pay him to take them out in the wild and teach them how to live off the land. He lived in a tee-pee for a couple years. He is the best story teller... he learned the art of story telling from the indian tribe he joined in the 1970's. He tells stories around the camp fire, decked out in a fringy leather outfit from head to moccasin'd toe and shoots blank gun powder from his gun. It's mesmerizing. During our reunions in Idaho, we eat fish and "game" (kinda gross) that he caught/shot himself. "You like that stew?" He'll ask in a gruff but friendly voice. "That there's elk. Shot it yesterday." Haha!

*Harper, Wendy & Eden crossing the bridge over the creek bed in search of perfect walking sticks

Uncle Roy Dan's 40 acre ranch is a child's dream. There is so much to explore. Not to mention the horseback rides, fishing, water gun wars, and nature adventures. Uncle Roy Dan even taught a bunch of the kids how to carve stones into arrow heads. The kids didn't need any type of electronics or even an single toy and they played their little hearts out all day, every day.

*Harvey & Ryan, my animal lovers, admiring the horses

*Harvey's 1st horse ride

Harvey was in love with all the farm animals that were close enough to him to touch, dogs, birds/chickens, fish, but mainly the horses! He was SO excited about them... until we tried to let him ride one. I thought it would rock his little animal loving world to ride them, but not so much. Our ride was cut very short. He was not happy. Luckily, I got a good ride in later that evening, when some of the younger married couples went on a moonlight ride under the stars. Ryan has now decided that he wants to be a cowboy and to have a bunch of horses and move to Idaho. "Or at least Yorba Linda," he says. Sounds fun, but I think horses are a little more expensive than birds honey. 

*Uncle Drew taking people on rides. Like the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland but real

One morning, while staying at the truckstop motel, my dad and I got up early and went on a run along the open road. I'm used to running on a treadmill, starring at a wall, talking to no one. So maybe that's why it was so invigorating to run in the crisp, fresh air, along beautiful rolling hills and farm lands, getting to spend quality time with one of the men I admire most in this world. It was one of my favorite moments of our trip. 

*river rafting in Lava, ID

So, if you want to have the best reunion ever, go to Idaho. River rafting, fishing, horseback riding, beautiful scenery, authentic story telling, evening campfires, night time skies full of stars, and non-stop fun. What more could you ask for?

*Uncle Roy Dan's Tee Pee... the floor of it is covered with bear skins, that thing is legit!

Oh Idaho, I love you. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Flagwest Truckstop Motel

SO... this was our home for the last couple of nights! The actual name of this motel is the "Flagwest Truckstop Motel," in Downey Idaho. If you want to check in, fill your ice bucket or get your free continental breakfast, you do it at the gas station. There are nothing but hills, farm lands and an empty open road near by. Ryan said this was the kind of place you only see in horror movies. I felt like it was a fun adventure, but I just really love staying in hotels/motels. Maybe I would have been a little more nervous about it if every single room wasn't occupied by members of my own family (for the reunion).

Thursday, July 5, 2012


 *1st stop: dinner at Sammy's in Pleasant Grove

Have you ever been to Sammy's Cafe? There are 2 in Utah and 1 in Idaho. They have delicious food and a super fun atmosphere. Ryan's best friend is the famous Sam behind "Sammy's." Ryan has been to Utah loads of times to visit Sam over the last couple years, but I never go with him because it's usually kind of a dudes trip, plus we can't afford it. So I had never been to a Sammy's and was very excited to finally get a taste of a real pie shake! (that's where they put a whole slice of real pie into your shake and blend it up.) We convinced Sam to take us on a Sammy's tour: 1st stop- dinner at Sammy's in Pleasant Grove, 2nd stop- dessert at Sammy's in Provo. I got a yummy burger with sweet potato fries for dinner and, no joke, a couple different real pie shakes for dessert. If you're ever in Pleasant Grove, Provo, or Rexburg, do yourself a favor and make a special detour to try the banana cream pie shake (that one was my very favorite).
 *2nd stop: real pie shakes for dessert at Sammy's in Provo 

Wendy LOVES uncle Sam. It took her a while to warm up to him, but he really tries to win the nieces and nephews over and he wore her down. She now wants to name our next baby boy "Sam" and names any boy "Sam" when she's playing pretend (she likes to pretend she is the mom, "Vanessa," and I am the dad, "Sam." She gets mad if I don't talk in a deep man voice when I'm playing the part of Sam... I'm not allowed to talk with my normal mom voice when she's supposed to be the mom.She was so excited to discover that both she and uncle Sam have burger joints named after them: Wendy's and Sammy's. In a battle between frosties and real pie shakes, I have to say, I think real pie shakes would win.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Family Road Trip

This year, for the 4th of July week, Ryan & I took a couple days off work and headed on a much needed road trip (well... much needed by me at least). I love road trips. I spent the whole day before we left getting ready and I was so giddy for the change of scenery, it didn't even feel like a chore. On the 4th of July we got up early and left by 7:30am. I love the feeling I get pulling out of our driveway with the car full of luggage and the kids all bundled in the back seat.

One the drive, the kids were as good as can be expected. Harvey did great for the first couple hours. Wendy was asking for a movie before we even got on the freeway. I tried to give her the road trip experiences I had as a kid, which basically consisted of looking at the scenery out the window, singing silly songs and trying not to get in fights with my little sister. Wendy humored my desires by singing along with me and looking up every time I pointed out a horse or group of cows. She wasn't just humoring me, though, as we drove through the gorge in Arizona. With red rock mountains jutting up on either side of the highway, she stared up and out her window with her mouth wide open, yelling, "WHOA!! These are the GIANTEST rocks I ever seeeeeeen!! No... these are the GIANTEST rocks I ever seen!! WOOOWWW!" It made me smile, I could have listened to her little voice squeal with excitement all day.

*wearing our patriotic red, white & blues

After 10 hours of driving, we arrived for a quick visit with my aunt & uncle and their 7 kids. We had lots of family there (all passing through on the way to our reunion in Idaho). We totally lucked out that my parents were there and graciously offered to watch our kids so we could go out with our friends, Sam & Nikki, to Stadium of Fire (a big 4th of July celebration in Provo). This was an especially big favor because my daughter HATES fireworks. I cannot emphasize it enough. This little girl has a major fear of fireworks. I can only say that if I believed in reincarnation, I would be certain she had suffered through a war in her past life because she looses it. It's as if she thinks the fireworks are bombs falling from the sky to take her life. She is inconsolable. I apologized to my parents as we left. I knew their hopes of enjoying any type of fireworks would be ruined. (and I was right... they ended up in the back seat of the car, Wendy's hands over her ears, with a movie playing on the dvd player to distract her.)

Sam worked his magic and got us some great seats at the Stadium of Fire. We got to see an Osmond, Scotty McCreery (from American Idol) and the Beach Boys perform before watching an amazing fireworks show (and that's saying a lot - I'm used to Disneyland fireworks so I'm a hard one to impress). Utah really knows how to celebrate the 4th of July. They do it way better than California. The day is full to the brim with festivities and parades. I got choked up in appreciation for my country a couple of times that day. Ryan and I were wondering why the difference is so big. We decided the reason in that the majority of the people living in Provo have a rich heritage of ancestors that came to this country in search of religious freedom. Maybe that's it. I don't know, but I highly recommend a trip to Provo for the 4th at least once in your life. You won't be disappointed. 

*my mom with the kids in the car during the fireworks. see how happy they look? what an amazing grandma!