From Moab we headed back into Colorado. My brother and his family live in Grand Junction so we were excited to see them for a few days. Ben and Kelsey have a little girl, Olivia, who is only 3 weeks younger than Rosemary. Even though there are many miles between the two, I hope they grow up to be good friends. They seemed to be a little wary of each other at first, but by the time we left there they were warming up to each other!
Olivia and Rosemary checking each other out
Ben enjoyed hanging out with Olivia too
On Friday night (October 23rd) we went to Palisades, Colorado with Ben, Kelsey and Olivia and went to the downtown Halloween festival. The main event was the Pet Costume Parade which we all thought was pretty entertaining. Dogs dressed up as lobsters, sheep, Mickey Mouse, a Jedi and more are fun to watch!
Our family all dressed up for the Palisades Halloween event. Here you have Aladdin & his monkey (Abu), a witch, a pirate, a waitress, a boxer and Bo Peep with her little lamb.
A little spider and lamb just watching all of the silly dogs in costumes.
We also went to a pumpkin patch with them. The kids had a blast there….three jumping pillows, pony rides, pig races, a couple of corn mazes, barrel train rides, a hay bale obstacle course and more. Lance and I could have left, gone on a date and come back without them ever knowing we were gone!! (don’t worry, we didn’t do that!!).
Our little pumpkin in the pumpkin patch
Ben loved riding this pony….it was difficult to get him down when the ride was done!
Elise….sweet and spunky Elise
Elise going down the slide in the hay bale obstacle course
Joe and Sam playing some reball
Sam was in his element!
Ben riding in the barrel train…which he LOVED!!!
Abby and Rose rode the train as well
Ben trying to get the donkey to eat some hay
Joe and Abby
On Sunday Lance, Joe and Sam went for a hike with my brother, Ben, up Mount Garfield. Lance and Ben took their time and stopped halfway up, but Ben and Joe went all the way to the top. While they were up there I got a phone call from Ben. Our campground was right near the bottom of Mount Garfield and as I looked towards the top I could see a flash of light. Ben and Joe were using a signal mirror to show me where they were. My guys really enjoyed the hike and had a good afternoon together with Ben.
Sam during the climb up Mount Garfield
Uncle Ben teaching Sam how to use the signal mirror
Ben and Joe at the top of Mount Garfield
A cool panorama shot of Joe at the top
On Monday we went to Ben and Kelsey’s house for dinner. The kids loved going in the hot tub and we had a great time visiting all together. We also got to meet their hedgehog, Bruno. Our kids were all super excited to watch and touch him…all except Rosemary, she was pretty apprehensive about the spiny little creature!
Ben holding Bruno while the kids check him out
Rose was not too sure!
On Tuesday, October 27th, we went for a hike in Nancy Hanks Gulch with their family to some amethyst mines. The mines were abandoned and the land is public so whatever the kids found they could keep. They were all pretty excited about the Amethyst and Fluorite they found in the creek bed. Ben and Kelsey are both geologists so it was interesting to hear them identify the different kinds of rocks we found and educate us on the layers we were seeing in the cliffs. (Put that one down for a homeschool win….science lesson and P.E. class all in one!!)
Olivia and Rosemary hanging out together while the bigger kids look for cool rocks
Ben “helping” Sam sift for Amethyst
A good place to find the Amethyst and Fluorite was in the dry creek bed
Hiking back down to the vehicles….Kelsey, Abby, Ben, Lance and Joe
Ben and Olivia with me and Rosemary
It was a beautiful fall day for a hike!
We got to see these guys right next to the road soon after we started back towards Grand Junction
We had to stop the car on the way home after Ben told us he had some “owies”. They turned out to be cactus needles stuck in his knee and hand….OUCH! Lance got out the pliers and did a little triage right there on the side of the rode.
On Wednesday we left the Grand Junction area for a couple of days and drove down to the southwestern corner of Colorado to see the Mesa Verde National Park. I remember going there with my parents when I was about middle school age and really enjoying it. I was excited for the kids to get to explore the ancient ruins and learn about the Indians that lived there. Unfortunately, they had closed down the ruins temporarily because of some improvements they were making for safety’s sake. We still drove through the park and could see the buildings built into the cliffs, but just couldn’t’ walk around in them. We also saw some wild horses and quite a few deer there.
Some of the ruins in the cliffs
Deer and wild horses
While in that area of Colorado we made a stop at 4 Corners. It was fun to have a hand or foot in four states at once….Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.
Joe doing the smolder in four states at once!
Abby hanging out in Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico
Each state has two Kornoeljes in it!
Even Rose gave it a try
Stunt-girl Rosemary…..don’t worry…..Joe is right behind her, holding her steady
After that we decided to check out Ouray, Colorado. It’s a quaint little town in the mountains and it was our first experience with snow on this trip. The drive in was beautiful, but not as much fun for Lance as he maneuvered the truck and camper around tight turn after tight turn all while going up and down in the mountains. The area is called “The Switzerland of America” because of the snowcapped peaks all around. Lance and I went to Switzerland a few times while we lived in Germany back when we were first married and we both agreed that it’s a pretty accurate nickname. We camped in a campground right downtown Ouray and right next to a river. It was amazing to look up and see the majestic snowy mountains towering above us! We walked downtown that evening and had some delicious burgers at a pub and then settled in for the night. The next morning everything was covered with a thick layer of frost and we felt very cozy in the warm camper. Ouray is known for their hot springs so we had to try them out! The day ended up being sunny and about 45 degrees, but still swimming weather when you have giant hot tubs to enjoy! The kids had a blast swimming in the different spring fed pools and the water ranged from 90 degrees to 105 degrees depending on which one you were in.
The view we had while we were driving to Ouray
Elise sitting by the river behind our campsite working on an art project
Walking into town
Lance and the five oldest kids in the hot springs on a gorgeous fall day
Ben really enjoyed playing/splashing in the water
The beautiful snowy mountains
From Ouray we headed back up to Grand Junction. A last minute change of plans allowed for Lance’s parents to meet us there and travel along with us for almost a week. We were looking forward to spending time with them. Since it was Halloween when we arrived back in Grand Junction we took the kids trick or treating and Lance’s mom went along. It was a perfect night for it and the kids came home with plenty of loot! We found out that Ben loves suckers….on the drive back to the camper he had one in his mouth, one more unwrapped in one hand and another waiting to be unwrapped in his other hand. When we got him ready for bed a battle ensued because he was pretty sure he should be able to sleep with his candy…..we won that one!!
Every Halloween night we take a picture of our kids in front of our house…so here they are in front of our house!
Sunday, November 1st, was a very special day. A few weeks before, Elise and Sam had started talking about being baptized. We didn’t know exactly how to make that happen while on this trip, but really didn’t want to make them wait until we got home. Well, the week before we had gone to a small church in Palisades that we loved instantly. The people there were the friendliest, most welcoming bunch we have met yet. Lance was able to get ahold of them and they were willing to do the baptisms. It was extra special because Rich and Barb and also Ben, Kelsey and Olivia were all able to be there too!! What a wonderful day it was to see Elise, Sam and Abby all be baptized and to have so much family there to witness it too!!
Elise getting baptized
Sam getting baptized
Abby getting baptized
Ben hanging out with these two sweet little ladies (Olivia and Rose) in the church nursery
After church we said good bye to Ben, Kelsey and Olivia. We really enjoyed getting to spend so much time with them and will miss seeing them. I loved getting to know my new sister-in-law better and Olivia is such a sweet, happy little baby….their family was a joy to be around. Thank you for your hospitality Ben and Kelsey!!
Ben, Kelsey and Olivia—what a sweet family. We love you guys!!
That Sunday afternoon we left Grand Junction and headed to Lake Powell. It’s a large lake that is in Utah and Arizona. We happened to find a campground right on the lake in Page, Arizona. That afternoon we enjoyed the beach. People watching might have guessed that we were from a northern state….chilly lake water didn’t stop our kids from water fights and swimming!
We had some chilly kids after swimming that evening
Sam worked hard building this canal
The next day we rented a pontoon boat and tube and set sail to explore the lake. The afternoon was mostly sunny and pleasant. The kids and Lance had a great time tubing. Then, it seemed like all of a sudden the weather turned and a storm blew in. The wind was blowing and it was cold and rainy. We all cuddled up for the half hour ride back to the marina and when we got back we were all soaked. After getting some dry clothes and hot pizza we were as good as new!
Ben, Rose and me on the pontoon boat….Rose wasn’t thrilled with wearing a life jacket!
Elise loved the tubing…she was the first one out there!
Sam was quite the little daredevil on the tube!!
Rose hanging out with Grandma Kornoelje
Abby had a lot fun on her turn too
Ben helping Grandpa Kornoelje drive the boat
On Tuesday, November 3rd, we took off for the Grand Canyon. We got there when it was dark so didn’t get to see any of it that night, but were excited to see it the next day. When we got up Wednesday morning we saw that it had snowed a little during the night, not a lot, maybe an inch or so. Our kids were pretty pumped about that and we stopped to buy some gloves so that they could play without freezing. We hopped on a shuttle bus with the intention of getting off at the many lookouts to see the Grand Canyon. It was snowing, but not too bad. At the first stop we realized how pointless this venture was….you couldn’t see anything when you looked down into the canyon except fog and snow. By the third stop it was a crazy snow storm!!! We had the privilege of being there for their first big snow storm of the season! It got very windy and snowy and we were turning into icicles as we waited for the next bus to pick us up. It was so bad that the buses were all heading back to the station and we were glad to get one as it started heading back. Once again we were all cold and wet when we got back to the camper. It was a perfect afternoon for hot cocoa and chili for supper.
The Grand Canyon is a little less “grand” when you can’t actually see it!
Sam and Elise were ecstatic about the snow!
Rose snuggling with Grandpa
Plenty of snow for snowball fights!
Here are the kids just before it started snowing like crazy
Here we are afterwards…huddled together trying to keep the babies warm
Our camper and Lance’s parents’ van that they drove in and camp in
Ben and Rosemary were all tuckered out after that day….good thing they had Grandpa and Grandma to cuddle with
The next morning Lance’s parents left. It was hard to see them go, hopefully they will get to meet up with us again sometime in January.
The good news was that the snowstorm was over and we could actually see the beautiful Grand Canyon!! Lance took Joe and Sam on a hike down into the canyon that afternoon. They had a good time and saw lots of deer. The whole family took a drive that evening to some of the lookouts. It is an amazing place….one of those places that you look at and think “God made this for us to enjoy just because He could! What a powerful God we have!”
Joe and Sam ready for their hike into the canyon
Pretty amazing view that just wasn’t there the day before
On Friday we left and stayed the night at a Walmart in Page, Arizona on our way to Zion National Park in Utah. What a treat the next morning to see the sky filing with hot air balloons. They must have had a festival that day. It was so fun to see the different shapes and colors in the balloons floating above us.
I love hot air balloons!!
We continued on to Zion. The campground we stayed at had a little snow and Sam, Elise and Ben all have fun sledding down a small hill and Elise built a cute little snowman. Now, I would be fine if we don’t see any more snow….but I am glad that they got to have a little snow fun since that’s something they will be missing about Michigan! We drove into Zion that evening, but it was too late in the day to do any hiking. We did get to see a beautiful sunset though.
Sam sledding and you can see Elise’s little snowman at the top of the hill
Zion National Park
The next day (Sunday) we had intended to drive through Zion on our way to Las Vegas, but it turns out that our truck and camper together are too long to navigate the switchbacks so we would have had to leave the camper somewhere to do that and we didn’t really want to use up that much of the day. We said good bye to Zion and got to Las Vegas that evening just as the sun was setting. We had found some good hotel deals and had a couple of rooms at New York New York right on the strip. We have all become pretty used to living in a camper and it has worked out very well most of the time….but let me tell you….having a giant king size bed, a normal sized toilet and a shower that you can stand in without touching any of the sides is an amazing thing!!! We stayed for three nights and enjoyed the space immensely!! We were only going to stay two nights, but the hotel upgraded our rooms and we just couldn’t say no. For the third night Lance and I had a room (with Ben and Rose) that had a separate bedroom, hot tub, living room, dining room and little kitchenette. It was as big as three of our campers!! The other kids all shared a more normal room, but still lots of space.
Our hotel….New York, New York
The view from our window. Ben really enjoyed watching the roller coaster going by.
Ben and Rose checking out the new room….a little more space than they are used to!
He was loving the waterfall faucet
While in Vegas we did a little sightseeing. We went to the Hershey store, the M& M store (sensing a pattern here???) and had fun watching some of the street performers and characters. We also walked down the strip to see the Eiffel Tower and the Bellagio fountains. Other than that we just enjoyed spreading out in the hotel rooms. The kids played in the hot tub and even played hide and seek in our gigantic room.
Elise in front of the Hershey’s store (Ben is hiding behind the Hershey bar)
We were impressed with the chocolate Statue of Liberty
The Eiffel Tower on the strip
Our family in front of the Bellagio
Our “Ocean’s Eleven” moment!
We left Las Vegas on Wednesday, November 11th. California here we come!!