Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bob's 50th Birthday

Bob celebrated his big "50" birthday at El Portal Mexican Restaurant with friends and family. He enjoyed a delicious Mexican dinner followed by Spanish singers treating him to a "Happy Birthday" song in Spanish and a traditional Mexican dessert.

Bob enjoyed opening his 50 birthday cards from friends and family around the country. It took him more than 50 minutes to open and read his collection of cards. He was surprised to receive so many birthday cards from so many friends. A delightful surprise I must add.

The kids all got together and wrote out 50 things they learned from Dad so that was a special treat to read as well.

The night ended with Bob opening his own "Bob the Builder" Scrapbook showcasing all the remodeling projects Bob has mastered in his wood working career! It was over 20 years of work all in one photo album. It was a pleasant surprise and will be cherished for years to come.

A fun evening was had by all.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Quail Valley

We're always up to exploring new territory and this summer we found out about a great little camping place only one hour away--Quail Valley Resort! It's nestled away only 60 miles NE of Bakersfield. Some new friends and their three little girls joined us for a weekend of camping up at Quail Valley. A beautiful little creek circled the campground and was found to be hours of entertainment. Even some delicious blackberries were picked near the flowing creek.

A short drive found us to the giant redwoods where we took the Trail of 100 Giants and explored the forest and saw many of the big, or shall I say huge, redwood trees. Our creator is amazing in making such humongous trees--His beauty never ceases to amaze us!

Fishing in the pond provided an opportunity to get out the fishing poles and bait the hooks. Almost everyone had a tug on their line and pulled in a fish before the weekend was over!

Hume Lake Camping

Our summer would never be complete with out a camping trip with our friends from church. As often in the past, Hume Lake was chosen as our destination for this summer camping. We had some new families join us which was a blast!

A week in the mountains is a vacation that everyone needs now and then. The smell of pine, the warmth of the fire, the splash in the lake as the canoe tips are all part of life at Hume.

Campfires, canoeing, walks around the lake, and fishing where enjoyed by everyone. Some even ventured into paintball and the zip line--which was a treat almost everyone enjoyed.

Mike & Liz Bussell and their two girls joined our group so stories of life in Africa and music from Mike filled our evening campfire. What a joy to have the Bussell family share in our camping experience. Sarah loved outdoor time with Lily and Abby--exploring, canoeing, running, playing.

Amy & Timmy's biggest challenge was to "get up" on the floating log--it's a lot harder than it looks! After much trial and error they both succeeded--well at least for a few seconds. Timmy enjoyed canoeing and exploring up the river and Sarah was the lucky one to catch the only fish--a beautiful rainbow trout while out canoeing.

Summer memories of the Collins kids will always include Hume Lake--a beautiful mountain vacation--and fortunately there were no bears seen this year!

South Dakota

Our family vacation continued after Little Rock, Branson, Wisconsin, Minnesota with a wonderful few days at Rapid City, South Dakota. Beautiful country! Rolling hills--all green--of course, rivers, creeks, lakes, and so many, many family fun activities.

As you probably know from history, South Dakota is know for being Indian country! Indeed it is. We encountered our first Indian at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. Amy & Sarah were a little shocked but relaxed a little until seeing buffalo cross the road--not quite an every day experience. We actually had to wait for part of the herd to slooooowly cross the road. There were hundreds of them near Custer State Park.

Mt. Rushmore was one of our favorites! It was not only magnificent during the day as you gazed at the beauty of the monuments, but awesome in the evening lit up in the night sky. Everyone ought to see it. Their evening program was patriotic expressing tribute to the four faithful men of our country's past. Every American can be thankful for our freedom and what these brave men stood for in our nation's past.

The Circle R Dinner Show was our next favorite activity. We enjoyed an exciting horse back ride during the afternoon and then a shoot-out and cowboy dinner show with the most delicious beef and chicken you've ever had served on a tin plate. Old cowboy songs filled the evening with guitar, bass, and that good old country singing (and yes, they did catch the Biscuit Bandit).

A huge maze entertained the kids for quite some time one afternoon--they're goal was to find their way to all four corner posts before returning to their starting post--a true challenge it was!

Bear Country USA was one of those "I can't believe it" places where bears roamed the hills and you drove your car right past them. I think we counted 50 bears! All easily seen from our vehicle. The most precious sight was at the end where there were 14 baby bears playing together--it looked like a scene from a fairy tale. Sarah was convinced she now NEEDS a pet bear to add to her collection.

We continued on our journey through Wyoming where we visited Thermopolis and enjoyed an evening swim in the natural hot spring fed pool. They had two large pools, one extremely hot for the brave, and one moderately hot for people like me. A buffalo at the local park was also a fun climbing adventure before we moved on our trip.

Grandma & Grandpa's Farm

The highlight of our road trip east is always a trip to Grandma & Grandpa Dean's farm in Minnesota and this summer that was no exception. We all enjoyed baling hay on the farm and going on an old fashioned hay ride down the road! It was so much fun!

Our trip began with a drive through Branson, Missouri, after leaving Arkansas. A '57 Heaven Museum was unbelievable with everything from the year 1957. You've got to see it! Pretty awesome as it was all in perfect condition. Amy's highlight was the $1 jewelry store. . . or was it finding a Krispy Kream donut store for breakfast! Both were pretty exciting.

We enjoyed the new windmills we found everywhere when finally arriving in southern Minnesota. The weather was cool and so refreshing after being in the south. We spend a couple days in Wisconsin visiting cousins Lance and Marcia--pretty entertaining people--at Cindy & Dan's before returning to Minnesota for a family picnic and catch up with all of Sylvia's brothers and sisters. You'll all be happy to know that Carmon does have the "Dexter" cream can now and is treasuring every minute with it.

The 4th of July was spent going to a parade in Austin (one of our family's favorite traditions) and hitting a city celebration at the park and "free" ice cream cones at a local church. The fireworks that evening in Grand Meadow were awesome! A true spectacular view of our country's independence that we celebrate.

Farmer Timmy loved every minute on Grandpa's farm. The girls loved it as well and got a game of croquet going most every day. We celebrated Grandma's 77th birthday with family and put together beautiful glider chairs for Grandma and Grandpa to enjoy the summer together in.

No visit to Grandma & Grandpa's farm is complete without a wiener roast and picnic outside. The weather was plesant, the pop delicious and the marshmallow a golden brown. The evening ended with Amy winning her new card game 500!

Cowboy Tim, Cowgirl Amy, and Tractor driver Sarah could live months on the farm if given a chance. But for now, it's just wonderful memories of time spent with Grandma and Grandpa in Minnesota.