Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Texas, Day 3

Short post tonight...

We're in Houston, TX. The truck, however, is in Columbus, TX. In case you didn't want to do the google maps on that, I'll tell you they're roughly 50 miles apart.

That's right... another breakdown. This time it appears as though the CV joint seals are shot and we've been leaking axle fluid. That would explain the awesome grinding noise we were hearing this afternoon!

Fortunately, we seem to have found a good shop in Columbus (completely randomly... AAA failed us with NO recommended shops) and they're planning to have it done as soon as the parts get to them in the morning. Ironically enough, the parts were coming from Houston, and so did our ride.

So our friends Kim and Brent brought both their vehicles (which included a truck that could tow the trailer) over to Columbus to get us, and Kim will take us back over there tomorrow when it's done.

The good news is that it could be worse. The bad news is we definitely won't be making it to Mobile tomorrow. We're going to wait to see what time it's done and then decide whether we'll take off tomorrow or just wait til Friday. Yep, the hits just keep on coming!!

So that's our update for today. Hopefully I'll have good news tomorrow!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Texas, Day 2

We've been in Texas for two days now and we're not done yet. It's definitely bigger than Montana. In Montana's defense (you know, holding onto the title of longest drive through a state), though, we planned three days in Texas. It just took forever to drive through part of Montana.

We're in San Antonio, enjoying a very nice hotel room right on the Riverwalk. The thing that kills me about it is that it's about half as much as the place we stayed in Grand Canyon, but it's about a bazillion times better. Add to that the fact that my margarita cost more than my giant plate of Mexican food at dinner tonight (and only because I ordered the good Tequila) and Texas is now the cheapest place I've ever been. I like that!

What else have we learned about Texas? It's hot. Really hot. And when it rains, it doesn't mess around. We got caught in a thunderstorm at lunchtime in Abilene today... in mere minutes there were rivers running in the streets. It was crazy! But it was over in about a half hour and we were able to open the windows of the truck where we were hunkered down to eat our Chick-fil-A (just had to throw that in there for Abbie!). Here's the rain... sorry about the blur - it's the rain on the car window. I was NOT opening it!

In wildlife sightings today, we had llamas and goats. Ok, they weren't wild, but we saw 'em!

Tomorrow we're going to spend some time on the Riverwalk and go to the Alamo. We'll head over to Houston tomorrow to spend the night with one of Jason's oldest friends and her husband. We're looking forward to seeing them (and having a very short 3-hrs in the car!). From there, we head to Mobile on Thursday - we have a LONG driving day ahead of us that day, but it'll be worth it to pull into our own driveway that night!

Somehow it turned 11pm already, so I'm going to keep this short. I'll just share the view from our balcony tonight. Not bad, huh?
Oh, and one more thing.... I said last night that we had 3 more nights in hotels. I was wrong. As of last night we only had two more nights in hotels. Now we're down to just tonight! YAY!!!!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Hmmmm

I have nothing to say about today. Seriously.

Michaela woke us up at about 5 this morning and wouldn't go back to sleep. It was so nice of her to help us reset to another new time zone like that!

We drove from Albuquerque, NM to Lubbock, TX today. We saw a lot of very flat land, some cows and a lot of straight road. That was about it. Oh, and I apparently snored in the car (yay for not having to drive at all!!!).

We have another long day of driving tomorrow - right around 415 miles - to get to San Antonio. I'm excited to stay right on the Riverwalk, though, and we should get the chance to enjoy it a bit the day after tomorrow before we head to a friend's house in Houston.

We're down to only 3 days of driving and 3 nights in hotels!! I can't WAIT to unpack this stupid suitcase!

Oh, and that time zone shift - it's our last one! We're officially in central time... our time zone for the next 4 years!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Some more eye candy and something for the grandparents

I think I'll just let the pictures from the Grand Canyon speak for themselves. I wish they even came close to conveying the majesty of the canyon. I don't know how professionals do what they do, but I know my pictures fall a little short. But they might give you a small idea of how amazing it is!

The first four pictures are from the early afternoon. The light is flat that time of day, and it was a bit hazy, so it ends up looking like there's some rock in the foreground with a very nice painted background. I assure you, it even looked like that in person! Jason and I just kept saying it looked like a Hollywood set.


These next five pictures were taken from about 45 minutes before sunset until just around sunset (right up until the battery in my camera died. Nice planning, huh?). The light was so completely different that it was like a whole different place...even though we went right back to the same place we'd been earlier in the day. We almost didn't go back because of having to worry about the baby's bed time and stuff.... I'm SO glad we went anyway. Of course, that may or may not have had anything to do with her being up at 2:20, 4:10, 5 and then 6 this morning, but whatever... still worth it!


We left the Grand Canyon bright and early this morning, on our way here to Albuquerque, NM. We had a lot of miles to cover, but we made time for a little side stop in Arizona.... Winslow to be exact. Now, go ahead, I dare you to not sing the song....

So we're now in Albuquerque overnight and we'll head out for Lubbock, TX tomorrow. Only 3 more nights on the road... we'll spend Thursday night in our own house in Mobile!!!!

Finally, onto the stuff for the grandparents. First, I caught this picture of Michaela while we were sweating it out walking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon. Somehow I managed to get her to actually look at the camera.... a rare occurrence. The only person she'll pose for usually is Amy of Simply b Photos. Maybe she's taking pity on me since she knows Amy can't take her picture anymore since we moved!

And a little bit of action. Someone seems to have decided that crawling may not be the best mode of transportation anymore. She's gone from a few tentative steps between or to us, to choosing to walk between points on her own. Guess I'll be keeping some things in boxes when we get to the new house!

video


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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Eye candy back track

Pictures from the Grand Canyon today are going to have to wait. My camera battery died shortly before sunset tonight (thankfully I was able to get some shooting time in before it happened), so it's charging and I can't connect it to the computer. In the meantime, we'll back track to yesterday since it's early enough for me to wait the bazillion hours it's probably going to take to get pics to upload to blogger!

Enjoy!
The first 7 shots are from various look-out points around the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater. The last two are from Red Canyon, which you drive through on your way out to Bryce.

I'll get Grand Canyon shots up tomorrow if all goes well. We have a looooong driving day from here to Albuquerque, so I probably won't have much to share about the drive. Meanwhile, the Grand Canyon was definitely worth all the extra time we're spending in the car. It was truly amazing and I don't think any pictures will do it justice. If you ever get the chance to visit this treasure, take it!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sneak peak

Our internet connection here outside the Grand Canyon is a little less than wonderful. It just took me forEVER to even log in, let alone try to upload pictures. So the best I can do is a sneak peak for now.

We left Richfield nice and early this morning, anticipating a looong day. It was worth it, though, since a couple hours of our trip were taken up by a stop at Bryce Canyon National Park.

Wow.

It was amazing! Totally worth not getting here until about 12 hours after we started this morning, the sunburn I got on my arms and chest, and even the cranky baby!

I'm going to keep this short since our connection IS so slow. I'll just say that Bryce was incredible. The drive here was amazing and the gasp I let out when I got my first view of the Grand Canyon scared the poop out of the baby (yep, uncontrollable, inconsolable screaming ensued...oops!). Somehow I'll manage to figure out which pictures I want to share over the next couple days and maybe find a better wi-fi connection so I can actually upload them.

We're happy to be set up at the Grand Hotel just outside the south entrance to Grand Canyon National Park... and even happier to be here for two nights in a row! What we're not happy about is Arizona deciding they're too good for daylight savings time. Thanks, Arizona, we didn't REALLY want to stay in the same time zone for so many days in a row anyway!

So here's that sneak peak from Bryce. I picked this one because it showed some of the really cool formations. More to come as soon as I can! Plus, Grand Canyon!!!


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Nothing!

I told you to expect nothing today and I wasn't kidding.

We were on the road by 8:30 this morning and rolled into Richfield, UT, at about 4:30 this afternoon. It was a long, hot day of driving, but nice to be here before dinner. We got the chance to do laundry, dig out some more warm(hot) weather clothes, and relax a lot instead of running around and going to bed way too late.

The highlight of the day today was that we saw the temperature hit 99 degrees on the thermometer in the truck. And we tried to cook Fred by leaving him in the car (windows down quite a bit) while we grabbed a quick lunch. Looks like we'll be doing drive thru's or take-out at lunch time from now on!

So that's it for today. Tomorrow we're planning a side trip to Bryce Canyon on our way down to the Grand Canyon. As far as we can tell, there are no size restrictions on vehicles there, so we should be able to drive into a few of the viewing areas. We're going to stick to driving, though, since dogs aren't allowed on the trails at all. So hopefully, I'll have some good pictures tomorrow! It's going to be a long day, though, so I can't promise an update tomorrow night... it might have to wait til the next day. We're looking forward to getting the chance to sleep in a bit on Saturday before heading out to the Grand Canyon. It'll be nice to spend two nights in the same hotel, too!!

Sorry this is so boring tonight... but I warned you!!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Montana is big.

That is what I learned today... Montana is big. We were in the car for just about 9 hours today (9am-6pm) and most of that was spent in Montana. I read a book, I took a couple naps, we stopped for lunch, we stopped at a Safeway to just get out of the car for a few minutes (and get coffee), and yet, we were still in Montana. Only the last hour and a half or so of the drive was in Idaho, which is where we're spending the night tonight.

So, yeah, Montana is big.

At least most of the drive was pretty - rolling hills, some mountainous kind of terrain, streams, and lots of livestock, farms and ranches. But stretches looked like this
and that was boring (I think that's in Idaho, for the record).

But then we got to Idaho Falls... we weren't sure what to expect and we were very pleasantly surprised! We went to a Brew Pub for dinner and split a sampler of 6 of their beers, and then we took a really nice walk tonight along the Snake River. Who knew Idaho Falls was so nice! This marks two unexpected gems in the two cross-country moves... here and Missoula, MT (we also liked Kalispell last night, but it wasn't as great as Missoula to us).

I grabbed my camera for a our walk and snapped a couple shots of the Falls, some with the Mormon Temple in the background. Seeing the Temple made me think of my friends Lisa and Amy! (Hi guys!!)

The other thing we learned today is that it's summer in the non-Alaska world. YIKES. It was 84 degrees out at 8-ish tonight when we were coming back from dinner. This Alaska girl was NOT ready for that. Should be interesting to see how we do as we head further south over the next couple days.

So that's pretty boring stuff for today. But with 9 hours in the car, there's not much to talk about. Oh, another thing I learned is that I no longer get car sick when I try to read in a moving vehicle. I finished a book over the past two days ("A Thousand Splendid Suns"), the first one I've read beginning to end since the baby was born. That was pretty exciting (and the book was fantastic!)! Gotta remember to pull out another one for tomorrow.... 370 miles for us to Richfield, UT. TripTik is telling us 5hrs, 22 mins... we'll see!

Expect nothing tomorrow - driving all day and a stop in the middle of no where tomorrow night!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Are you serious? (or, why this trip isn't fun yet)


The last two days have not been the best. In fact, by the time the second crappy thing happened, I was wondering what the most direct route would be from Kalispell to Mobile so that we could just get it over with. But then I figured missing out on the Grand Canyon would sort of be like cutting off our noses to spite our faces, so we should probably keep going. But the thought is still in the back of my mind.

I'll start with yesterday. This is why we were happy to make it out of Jasper....
Yeah. That's the truck being towed. Definitely not the best start to the day. As I mentioned the other day, we had a bit of an issue with the transmission as we were getting ready to leave Dawson Creek. It was slipping and we even stalled a couple times. We thought everything was ok, though, since we made the trip to Jasper mostly uneventfully. But then, when we went to pull away from the hotel, the same thing happened. Jason managed to get us going and down the street to a service station, where he parked on the main street and went to see if they could take a look at it. As luck would have it, they had no openings until the afternoon (it was about 10am at that point), so we braved the international cell phone rates and called AAA. They pointed us to a different place, so Jason left me with the sleeping baby (of course she was sleeping then!) and walked over to the other garage. They said they'd take a quick look if we could get the truck over there right away. Well, when he got back, we got to make another call to AAA... this time to set up a tow.

Initially, there was talk of possibly needing a new transmission, which would've meant THOUSANDS of dollars and MANY extra nights in Jasper (at least 10, come to find out) at $250-ish/night for the cheapest nice-ish, dog-friendly hotel. But instead of that, it was 6 hours, just over $350 and a little bit of worry. Come to find out, the guys we had do the service on the truck in Kodiak (to get it ready for the trip) didn't know what they were doing when it came to installing the transmission filters. So instead of actually pounding them in with a tool made specifically for that, they just banged on 'em a little with their fists. 2500 miles of ALCAN later, and they'd unseated enough to no longer get any pressure and thus no fluid and thus no transmission. So, you can see we were VERY thankful for more than a couple things - first, that we made it out of the most remote places of Alaska and the Yukon with a working vehicle, second that we didn't try to make it through the winding, remote Icefields Parkway between Jasper and Banff, and third that it wasn't nearly as bad as it could've been and we were able to keep our schedule and not spend a fortune!

Once we got on the road, the views were spectacular... starting with this girl crossing the road right in front of us!

We were treated to a bit of sun every once in a while, though not as much as we would've liked. The baby mostly cooperated and we had a good afternoon/early evening. Thank goodness my little Alaska girl likes the cold temperatures and a ride in her Kelty backpack!!

I had to take this shot because I wanted to show what it looks like as you're driving down the road on the Icefields Pkwy. I didn't even have to stop and get out to take pictures... I took most of them from the truck!

How incredible is that!?!?
And here's the same mountain as the one above with the rainbow, just with a little more sun on it.

Just outside Banff is Lake Louise - which is apparently one of the most photographed places in the world. Unfortunately, we were there late-ish in the day and it was really overcast, so my pictures are not good. But I did have fun taking some pics of my girl!
Inspecting her first flower - a buttercup I picked for her, and which she quickly discarded. Fred took a turn at it, but he also spit it out. No love.
And here's Daddy and his girl! Like the goatee he's sporting? I love how it only takes about 12 shots to get one good one, too... thank goodness for digital. Wanna see an out-take?
So after all that yesterday, the only highlight of today was that we made it back to the US.

We intended to drive the Going to the Sun Highway through Glacier National Park. Intended is the operative word in that sentence. We did our homework this year, we thought, on getting through the road, thanks to being turned away the last time we rolled through. Yeah, it would've been nice if we'd paid attention to the vehicle size restrictions and not just the snow removal. Come to find out, you can't take that road if your vehicle is longer than 21 feet. Yeah, we're longer than that with the trailer.

Things got a little ugly for a bit after we were given the rules by the world's most unfriendly park ranger, and we were forced to drive around - AGAIN. Come to find out, it was probably better that way since the trip through was taking 2-3 times longer than the trip around, but we weren't very happy to be turned away at the gate. Again. (Did I mention that's happened to us before?)

So we're in Kalispell, MT, tired, a little road-weary, and facing our longest day of the trip tomorrow - 420 miles from here to Idaho Falls. We're praying Michaela handles it as well as she's been doing the last few days and that we get there in uneventful style. I think I'll take a quick look at the map tonight to see what that direct route might be, just in case.....

Monday, July 19, 2010

Quick check in

It's 11:30 pm and we're just finally getting ourselves installed in tonight's hotel room (another nice one, this time in Canmore, Alberta, just down the road from Banff). We expected to be here HOURS ago (literally), but got off to a rough start this morning.

I'll save the details for tomorrow when I have a little more time and I'm not as tired with an early morning facing me. Suffice it to say, it was almost a REALLY bad PCS and we're thankful to have been able to get out of Jasper and get here tonight. Sadly, we didn't get to spend the time in Banff that we really wanted to, but we'll probably get over it eventually.

Meanwhile, in the wildlife count, we added a TON of elk to the count today... too many to actually count, in fact. But the best one was the one that crossed the road literally right in front of us when we were finally heading out of Jasper. And all she wanted was the little clump of flowery-weeds on the other side of the road.

The views were spectacular, but I'm not 100% sure any of them translated well to a camera... the weather was pretty overcast and not great, so we'll have to see on that. Again, it's too late to get to that tonight!

Tomorrow we head out of here bright and early for our last Canadian leg. We'll spend tomorrow night back in the Lower 48!!! Hopefully the weather will cooperate and I'll get some good shots as we drive the Going to the Sun Road through Glacier National Park... we're definitely looking forward to it!

That's all for tonight. I promise I'll share the stories of our Jasper delay tomorrow!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Starting to lose track of the wildlife!

Official wildlife count:

6 moose
1 black bear
1 brown bear
1 herd of bison
4 deer
1 bunch of goats
1 fox
1 elk
and a partridge in a pear tree

Today was almost disappointing in the wildlife hunt... especially since we both had pretty high hopes. We started the day off seeing a lone fox trotting (HA!) alongside the road before we'd even really gotten away from Dawson Creek too far. After that, it was a drought until early afternoon when we finally saw another moose. This one was a little too quick for the camera (or maybe we were the ones going to fast to stop...), so no pics of it, but it was a pretty big one, with antlers that were just starting to come in.

From there, it wasn't until we got into the confines of Jasper National Park that we really saw some eye candy. First it was a big herd of goats alongside the road. And then, as we rounded a corner, we saw all kinds of cars lined up along the side of the road. I was amazed to see the most beautiful (and big!) elk imaginable! And I was more amazed that he just calmly went about grazing while tens of people stood around taking his picture, myself included. I even got a little brave and ventured closer than may have been wise... but I figured at least one other person there had to be slower than me, and that as long as he didn't choose me in particular to charge at, I was fine. Anyway, here he is:
For the record, I'm pretty sure I was zoomed out all the way in that first shot... to 75mm anyway. Yep, kinda close. In the second one, I'm only at 110mm, so still pretty close there, too! He really didn't care at all!

We didn't stop for the herd of goats, but I did snap a quick (not so great) picture of this guy as we made the turn into town. It was like he was saying, "Welcome!" (and that's from the car, so it's not great at all!)

And as if the wildlife weren't a cool enough welcome, the stunning views of the mountains drew us right in. Hopefully these are a sneak preview of what's to come tomorrow (as long as the weather clears - it's not so nice right now!!).

Backtracking just a smidge, the other thing we saw today was canola. A lot of canola. Did anyone else know what the plants that turn into canola oil look like? No? Me neither. For the record, they're low-growing plants with bright yellow flowers. And they grow a LOT of it up here. (Again, taken from the car... I can't be held responsible for the quality.)
That was our view for a good part of the day today. And I have a sneaking suspicion these little flowers - or their cousins - also have something to do with my dry, itchy eyes and my stuffy nose. Seems being in the land of more trees/plants than pine trees has brought my allergies roaring back to life. Yay.

Finally, in not so great news, we left from Dawson Creek this morning after a little issue with the transmission (on a Sunday, of course). Jason is hoping it's a low-fluid problem and nothing more, but we definitely had a moment of panic when he tried to pull into an intersection and nothing happened. We then stalled twice today. Totally not cool. Of course, we had everything looked at right before we left Kodiak, just to be sure we'd be ready for the trip, and then this happens! So say a few prayers that, if there IS a bigger problem than low-fluid, it decides to not manifest itself until we're somewhere south of Glacier National Park mid-week. We have no idea what we'd do if anything really bad happened up here.

Oh, and for anyone keeping track, we hid between the beds again tonight, but for no reason! At 8:30-ish, after I nursed her, Jason put the baby down and she just grabbed her blanket, rolled over, and went to sleep! That probably has something to do with the fact that she was up at 2:30 and 6 to eat this morning and didn't get much of a morning nap, but we'll take it!

Off to Banff, via Lake Louise, in the morning, and totally looking forward to it! If all goes well, stunning views to share tomorrow!!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

We're all zeroes!

Well, we're not zeroes, but we're at Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway!!

Tonight we're in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, the start of the Alaska Highway. And we can officially say that we drove the whoooooole thing, all the way from Fairbanks even! Technically, it starts at Delta Junction now, but at one point it started in Fairbanks, so we'll go with that.

I think we're also up over 2000 miles already driven, though I don't know if taking detours to different places around Alaska earns the same points as if you just HAVE to drive all those miles. Whatever way it works, we've been in the car a lot. A.LOT.

We seem to have settled into a bit of a groove and things have gotten much better since the horrific Denali to Tok day. It's also helpful that we haven't tried to cover so many miles at once since then - and we hooked up the DVD player (insert mommy guilt for putting a 1 year old in front of a TV for a couple hours a day). Tomorrow could be a long-ish day, especially since we lose another hour as we move into the Mountain time zone, so we're planning to hit the road at 8am! YIKES!!! Which means I should probably keep this short and sweet tonight so I can get some things packed up and get ready for bed!

We had a pretty short day today which was nice because we got into Dawson Creek early enough to check out the Alaska Highway House - a small little museum about the construction of the Alaska Highway (aka the ALCAN). Since we'd just driven the whole thing, we figured it was only right to go check it out.
This is a map of the highway they had up on the wall there. So in case anyone wondered, that was our route!

We were also able to get dinner at a decent time (meaning prior to baby melt down) and we went out for a nice walk in the 70+ degree temps! (Fred was dying!) Oh, and we also hit Walmart across from the hotel to pick up a few necessities. I promised I'd never step foot in another one again once I left Kodiak, but there's no Target here!!

All that fun once we got here meant we only had to hide next to the bed for about 6 minutes tonight while the baby cried...fresh air makes her tired!!! Tomorrow night will probably be terrible since she'll think it's an hour earlier when we try to put her down. Thankfully, the day after tomorrow is a very short driving day so we'll get her tired out in Banff and reset her clock again!

So that's about it from here for tonight. Nothing too exciting to report. The only wildlife we saw today were a couple of deer. Oh, and smashed bugs. LOTS of smashed bugs... on the windshield, stuck in the wipers, wrapped around the antenna... good stuff!

For the official record, we're up to 5 moose, 1 black bear, 1 brown bear, 2 deer and a herd of bison. Not bad!

Tomorrow we're off to the Canadian Rockies - Jasper for the night and then through the mountains to Banff the next night! Hopefully I'll get the chance to take lots of pictures to share... it was gorgeous when we were there the last time!!

Good night from Mile 0!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Birthday on the road!

One day, Michaela's going to have a great story to tell about her first birthday. Of course, she won't actually remember it, but she'll hear about how she sat in a car for 9 hours, minus a few brief stops, between Watson Lake, Yukon Territory, and Ft. Nelson, British Columbia.

Even more exciting, though, she can tell people that she went swimming for the first time on her first birthday and that it wasn't just anywhere... it was at the Liard Hot Springs! She wasn't too sure at first, but got used to it and even tried to jump out of Jason's arms and go solo!
On the walk back through the woods to the car, there was a squirrel sighting. That was definitely worth a stop to squeal and watch the squirrel run!!

Besides squirrels, today was also a good day for big wild life sightings! In addition to quite a few buffalo (which Jason made me take a picture of, but which I'm not posting because we've seen buffalo, a LOT), we saw a black bear first thing this morning and then a MOOSE this afternoon! I was so excited to get pics of the moose that I did a little squealing and almost woke up the baby who napped through the whole thing. Ooops! But, I think I'm the only person I know who managed to just about leave the state of AK without seeing a moose (we saw a few the other day, but no pics). And I just wanted to see a moose, dangit!

Here's the black bear. He paid zero attention to the fact that we were there. I stayed in the truck for this one, and only had to use my 300mm lens. He was more concerned about the cars coming up behind us than us... and the grass he was eating. And he was BIG. You can't tell from this, but he was definitely large for a black bear!


And the moose!!! So worth the wait on the pictures! The other 4 we've seen were either juvenile, female or just didn't have a rack. That and they spooked easily and ran away as soon as the truck came along side. This guy just stood there and contemplated me and the other guy taking pictures. I did get a few closer shots, but this one is my favorite. I busted out the 500mm for this, and braved the outside world (ie, left the truck), hoping he wouldn't decide to get mad at me!

And finally, we weren't able to go all out to celebrate our girl today since we're a little busy, but we did put her birthday bib on her at dinner tonight and she also got a small piece of cake for dessert. Jason and I had a small toast to surviving our first year of parenthood as Michaela slowly started to melt down because she was hungry and needed dinner! After we got back from dinner, we laughed at the ridiculousness that was the two of us ducked down between the beds in the hotel room so Michaela couldn't see us from her crib, all so she'd go to sleep. Ah, parenthood!

Happy First Birthday to our sweet girl! Lady-lou, we love you so much and can't imagine this world without you. We CAN imagine a cross-country PCS without the added work of dealing with your needs and wants, but we wouldn't have traded the last year in for anything!! You make life.... more. We love you!