Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Scenic Valley Railroad

Sunday afternoon, my parents picked up Heather and I for a fall adventure. We headed to Boone to ride on the Scenic Valley Railroad. This has been on Heather's and my to-do list for a while now, so we were really excited to check it out.
Here we are, ready to ride the train and see the fall colors!
We had a little time before our train departed so we walked around the station. This caboose was also a concession stand!
Heather and I in front of the train that we are going to ride.
My parents in front of the train, all smiles and ready to go!
This guy, I will call him Crabby Pants, was walking around checking things on the train. I would guess that he is a volunteer. He was standing by us so Heather asked him, "Do you think it will be a good afternoon for the leaves?" He replied, "No, probably not. With all this rain we are having, I don't think it will be very good." To which Heather said, "Well we already bought our tickets, so I guess we will try anyway!" We chuckled, he walked away.
My mom and Heather, ready to go!
The bench seats could be adjusted so you could face each other...here is the view Heather got for the whole train ride!
This was our "tour guide" Sheldon, he new more history of Boone and the trains than
wikipedia. ...and the scenic valley.
Tall bridge we went over, 156 feet tall!
Down past the river.
We went out 7 miles and then came back 7 miles. At the turn around spot we met the dinner train on their way back. Our engine unhooked from the front, took a turn around and came back to the other side to pull us back.
Heading back, the sun came out and so did the fall colors!
Headed back past the YMCA camp.
Across another scenic valley
...and the fall colors
And we made it back!
We had a great time riding on the train and spending the afternoon with my parents. We had a lot of laughs and saw a lot of fall colors in the Iowa country side.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Des Moines Marathon

Sunday morning, I ran in the Des Moines Marathon. The race started at 8:00am. Race conditions were very good, sunny with a starting temperature around 40 degrees. Heather met up with Chad, Shay, Nathan and Aaron to cheer me on. Here I am, in all black, right before mile 3. We started downtown, did a loop in the East Village and then headed up Grand into some hills!
After we the hills we take Grand to Polk Blvd. Here I am coming up to mile 8, I am still all smiles!
Going across mile marker 9.
From Polk we head down Kingman to Drake, take a lap around Drake's famous blue track and then come back down Kingman to Polk Blvd. Here I am just past mile 15...over half way!
Two thumbs up and a smile!
We head back down Polk Blvd, past the Art Center and hop on the bike path that goes into Waterworks Park. We make a big loop in Waterworks and the go across Fleur to Gray's Lake. My parents, my sister and her daughter Morgan were there to cheer me on as I got into Gray's Lake. We make a loop around the lake and they were cheering me on as I head out of the lake. Then we get on MLK and go down to 3rd and head to the finish. Heather, Chad, Shay and the boys planned on cheering at MLK, as they were getting there a train pulled up and stopped. So they parked and got out and walked around the train. In the picture below you can see the train on the left and Shay and Nathan walking around it.
...they made it in time to cheer me on.
There I go down the street to the finish. The marathon finishes on the same path as the half-marathon, so the walkers on the right of me are finishing up the half-marathon.
...and walking back down the tracks to get back to the mini-van!
At the finish, Nathan told me how good I did and how he saw me wearing my black jersey with a lion on it. Then he decided to call me "Lion Runner"

I finished in 2:51:21. That is a personal best for me, so I was pretty pleased! All in all, the race went well, I am pretty sore today. My legs, my toes and my jaw hurt this morning when I woke up. I chewed gum during the race, I planned on spitting it out but ended up chewing it the whole time. It was a great distraction but made for a sore jaw. Big Thanks to Heather for being so supportive and cheering me on. Big thanks for my cheering squad, it was great to have you out there and yelling for me!

Mid-Iowa Marching Band

Saturday night, Derek, Joni, Heather and myself attended the Mid-Iowa Band Championship, hosted by Ankeny High School. The competitions started at 4pm and the last band performed at 11:30pm. We saw most of the 3A competition. It was a chilly night, so we came bundled up.
Derek, Joni and Heather (band nerds) have been to this competition before and are excited to see the bands perform.

The first one we saw was Charles City.

Then Norwalk performed. They had a bigger band and they even had two baton twirlers...
...they even twirled fire!
Then it was Oskaloosa's turn to take the field.
...followed by Winterset
Then Dallas-Center Grimes put on a show.
...last but not least, what Heather had been waiting for all night...Pella
The Little Dutch took the field...
...and put on a good show
Pella did end up winning class 3A. We had a lot of fun watching the bands. I learned a lot about marching band!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fall Decorations

We recently got a new addition to help with creating fun decorations...a Cricut machine. (Big thanks to Erin for finding us a sweet deal online!) A Cricut is an electronic cutter that allows you to get creative results at the touch of a button. Basically you plug it in, pick your cartridge (font style), choose from your design, add paper and push cut. The machine cuts out letters, designs, whatever you program it to do...amazing!
For our first adventure with the Cricut, instead of cutting paper we used vinyl and has a sticky back. We cut out a "C" and some shapes and the word "Thankful" and then stuck those letters on our pumpkins!
We are really pleased with the results and it was so easy to use.
What a great touch to the fall decorations...I can't wait for the next project!

Apple Cider

This past week, Heather and I took a stab at making homemade Apple Cider. I found an easy recipe online that walks you through the steps.
All you really do is core the apples, cut them up into pieces, liquefy/puree them in a blender and then strain them through a cheesecloth.
We ended up using about 20 apples and it make a 1/2 gallon of apple cider.

I did pasteurize the apple cider by heating it up to 160 degrees on the stove (but not hotter than 180). That way it is safer and will keep longer in the refrigerator (up to 3 weeks). While I was heating it up, I added a little cinnamon and sugar. Next time I probably won't add the cinnamon until it is served. All in all, apple cider is a lot of fun and pretty simple to make.

Weekend in Orange City

Last weekend, Heather and I headed up to Orange City for the weekend. We didn't have any plans, we just wanted to hang out. We got there Friday evening about 6 or so. As the girls were winding down for bed time, Karys thought it would be fun to play beauty shop with Auntie Heather.
...and what a nice job she did fixing up Heather's hair!
Rob and Addyson were all smiles!
Saturday morning, Erin has a cross country meet to go to and Rob and I used the day as a work day. We tackled painting Gracie and Karys' room. Heather and the girls had a great time playing together. Gracie thought she should try her hand at beauty shop.
...and Heather's hair turned out great, nice job Gracie!
I took a break from painting to get into a tickle fight with Addyson.
...I think I won!
Later that evening, Addyson got changed into her yellow jammies to cheer on the Hawkeyes...and wouldn't you know, the Hawkeyes won!
Sunday morning, Addyson is still excited about the Hawkeye's win over Michigan
Before we headed home, we had a coloring contest and we hung the results on the door.
We had a great time hanging out in Orange City. We got a lot of work done around the house (although I forgot to take pictures of the project) and had a lot of laughs with Rob, Erin and the girls. Big thanks to Rob and Erin for having us up, we always have a great time!