Oct 8, 2018

On His Own

10/08/2018 — cori

When Gavin came home from UCI this summer, we spent many a day deep in conversation about school. We could tell he wasn't happy where he was. He was very stressed and didn't seem to be enjoying learning. He also mentioned in passing a few times that he was lonely. After a lot of heart to hearts, he decided to leave UCI for NDSU. Not only was cost a major factor, he missed his friends who were all going there. He missed the midwest - the weather, the landscape, the vibe. He knows himself well and knew this is where he needed to be. We supported his decision 100%.


"Move to Fargo" day finally arrived this past Thursday. He asked me to come with him to help him set up his first apartment. I was honored and more than happy to help. Even though he doesn't start classes until January, he is getting established, learning his way around and already working. His job at Target in Fort Collins transferred him to another Target in Minnesota (10 minutes away from Fargo). The time was right for him to set out on his own.


We divided the drive up into two days. This day was our long one...7.5 hours. It's apparent I didn't sleep very well the night before. We stayed in a horrible motel in Spearfish, South Dakota. Sometimes I wish I wasn't so cheap. This was one of those times.


I drove the first leg of the second day. Two hours in and it started snowing. I was not mentally or physically prepared for snow. I didn't even bring a jacket. My souvenir from ND was a stocking cap and gloves. Those beautiful items made my time there much more bearable and enjoyable.


Here is the "before" of Gavin's new studio apartment. It's in an old building in downtown Fargo. The building was built in 1894. It is beautiful and has an amazing vibe.


This picture was taken from the window looking toward the front of the apartment. We had just been given a tour by the building manager. Gavin chose this apartment online having never visited it before. He certainly lucked out. It's in a quiet part of downtown, across the street from a gorgeous park. The whole area is very peaceful and beautiful.


This is his front door. We both appreciated all the little details, like the ceiling, the nice woodwork, and the garbage chute


This is the inside of the building. The lower two levels are businesses. The upper 4 levels are apartments. It's very safe. Only the tenants are able to get up to the 3rd floor and above. This is not your typical college kid's apartment. But Gavin is not your typical college kid. He appreciates beauty and history and calmness - everything this apartment gives him.


All of his friends showed up to help him "move in" (unload the car). We didn't have any furniture yet. But they were there. And they helped. Some of them even cleared their schedules to be there when he arrived. They were just as excited to have him here as he is to be there. Gavin calls them "my boys", another friend refers to them as "d'crew". Whatever they are, they're friends and that is priceless.


We took time out of our furniture shopping to explore the downtown area. Right across from his apartment is the old Union Station. Now it is just a museum with old rail cars sitting out front. It sure is pretty though.


A block away is the Broadway where Fargo's very vibrant downtown area is. It reminds me alot of Old Town Fort Collins. I loved it there.


Next, we got a tour of NDSU from two of Gavin's friends. One of them is very into landscape architecture and was thrilled to have a captive audience to show every tree on campus to and tell us their scientific names. I don't think anyone else has ever had a tour like that of the campus. It was sweet to see his excitement. But after 2 hours in the cold weather, I was ready to go back to the apartment and build some furniture.


This will be his home for the next however many years. He has no expectations about what he wants to do with his degree, he just wants to enjoy learning and see what interests him and what comes his way. I like how he thinks.


Here is his friend Colin showing him the bus route he can take from his apartment to campus. The bus is free for students. That's a nice perk.


Ahhh....the furniture building. This wasn't Gavin's favorite part, but he sure is happy to have it.


The "after" picture of an almost finished apartment. He still doesn't have a bed, but it's on it's way. 


The tiny kitchen. This is the first and last time it will be this clean.


Good bye, Gavin. We'll miss you! But you are so ready to be on your own. You've got this!


Sep 30, 2018

The Road Trip

9/30/2018 — cori

This awesome kid and I got to spend 4 whole days traveling together. Grandma and Grandpa in Minnesota let us buy their old car for Bennett. This car holds alot of nostalgic value for Bennett since Grandma and Grandpa have had this car since he was 3. 


We flew into Minneapolis and went straight to Grandpa's house. He immediately started teaching him all the important things to know about his new car. I think I took like 10 videos of Grandpa teaching Bennett how to operate everything. Those videos are going to be gold to him as he grows older.


Since this was my first time back to Minnesota in 14 months, I also got the chance to visit several of my previous students. I had the joy of teaching Sokharoth, the gentleman I'm sitting next to, for 2 years. After I left, Judy (the lady on the far right) became his teacher. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch visiting and reminiscing together.


I also got to visit another student at her home. She made this most amazing Afghani lunch for me - it was incredibly delicious! 


This trip did not disappoint in the food department. We got to go to all our favorite old restaurants - Punch Pizza being highest on the list!


Also, Las Tortillas. I just can't seem to duplicate this meal at home no matter how hard I try. 


Grandma and Grandpa took us to their gym and taught us how to play squash. We played for 2 hours. It was exhausting and super fun. I'm totally hooked now! I just love how active and playful my parents still are. They've always been that way and I'm so thankful to see that age is just a number for them. They are truly enjoying their retirement years.


I'm not so sure Grandpa was enjoying getting whooped by Bennett on the basketball court though. 


The final evening before leaving, we got to enjoy a delicious dinner with my brother and his family. These are my sweet nieces, age 11 and 9.

I also managed to find time to drive past the old neighborhood and say hi to my wonderful neighbors as well as visit my friend and her husband. I love the friendships where you might not see each other all the time, but when you do, you pick up right where you left off like no time at all has passed. Those are the best of friends!

Bennett and I spent the next two days driving home. We're not big fans of Iowa and Nebraska right now. They seem to go on forever and ever (13 hours to be exact). This was the first time Bennett drove such a long distance and for hours at a time. He passed the test with flying colors. 

However, I did get a little tired of playing "20 Questions" and "I'm going on a trip and I'm taking...". Apparently, I suck at 20 questions. Bennett kept telling me I wasn't asking good enough questions. I felt that guessing everything and anything in the whole world is too impossible given the parameters of only 20 questions. I can't even. My brain doesn't have the capacity to narrow things down very well - so I'm told. But I rock at "going on a trip."

Home is a wonderful place.


Sep 24, 2018

The New Normal

9/24/2018 — cori

This is the new normal. Bennett drives Chloe and himself to school. It seems like it was only last week that I posted a picture of Gavin driving Bennett to school his freshman year.  Man! Where does the time go?

They are both starting a new high school this year - never an easy transition. So far, so good. Because of moving and district boundaries this will be Bennett's third high school in 3 years. We're hoping he graduates from this school.

Chloe found a friend in the neighborhood who also recently moved to Colorado and is new freshman at the school this year. It sure helps going to a new school already having a friend!

Sep 14, 2018

BeaUTAHful Anniversary

9/14/2018 — cori
To celebrate our 22nd anniversary, Chuck and I decided to head back to one of our favorite places - Utah. Can I just say how much I LOVE this state?! It has some of the most amazing geological features, mountains, rivers, and scenery. We kept hearing about Moab and thought that would be an awesome place to spend a weekend together.


This is the view we were greeted with while driving into town! 



After the gorgeous 6 hour drive, we found our rental property and walked around the downtown area. Then we drove 30 miles outside of town to a place called Dead Horse State Park. We heard it had spectacular sunsets. It did not disappoint. We spent two sunsets out here overlooking this massive canyon.


First thing the next day we went straight to Arches National Park. We had no idea what to expect but were super excited to see and try it all. We figured we would do the Big One first - the Delicate Arch. After finally finding the right trail, we began our trek. We never checked to see if it was an easy, moderate, or difficult trail until we finished it 2 hours later. Of course we jumped right into the hardest of hard. The picture above is actually a trail, it goes all the way to the top of that rock ledge and then some. It's very difficult to tell the steady incline, but our legs sure felt it!


This is the rock ledge that was in the top right hand corner of the above picture. It went on and on and on. It was a beautiful day with not a cloud in the sky. We had to keep reminding ourselves we were in the desert and that shade was a luxury.


This is the final part of the trail. Around the corner and to the right, the Delicate Arch awaits. That is, if you ever make it past this tiny, life-threatening path that plunges hundreds of feet straight down on the left. Walking up was fine because I could hug the cliff face. Walking back down on the other side was almost the end of me. My legs were so shaky I don't know how I was able to physically keep walking. Chuck kept telling me,"Just look at the wall. I'll guide you down." I did and he did. But that was just the beginning of doing all kinds of things I didn't know I was able to do. This was the weekend of doing hard things. But the reward and payoff was soooo worth it! 


TADA!! The Arch is MASSIVE! And BEAUTIFUL! It was definitely worth the hike! 



Another, closer angle. 


We drove to a picnic spot and enjoyed a nice, shady lunch. 


Right behind our picnic table was this little cave. Chuck couldn't resist climbing up it. It was the climb back down that was tricky though. It wasn't super tall, but it was very slick with no place to hold on to but too high to jump down from. This time it was my turn to help him. I verbally guided him down by telling him where to place his feet (as I recorded it on video). 



Our next hike was in a place called The Fiery Furnace. We had to watch a special video at the Visitor Center and answer a few questions before paying for a permit to walk through this amazing place. They have to keep track of all the hikers here because there are no trails. It's just a maze of rocks that seems to go on forever. And it was the highlight of our whole trip. 


The Fiery Furnace was as hot as it's name. There is no direct way in, you just start walking. We came to a huge grouping of boulders and just started climbing. Remember that phrase our family coined years ago, "It's not an adventure unless mom is scared." Well....it was a true adventure! 


This place just blew our minds! There were crevices so narrow we had to squeeze sideways to get through them.


Or shimmy our way through Ninja Warrior style.


This was the day I became brave. 


It was so serene and quiet. We felt like the only people there. There was a sense of awe all around us. I think we passed only 4 other people the whole 2+ hours we were out there. It was a little dicey water-wise. We each only had one bottle of water left for this hike. We could have used like 3 more. It was HOT. And we had no idea how long this hike would take us or if we would ever find our way out of this maze of boulders and cliffs. It was the ultimate off-road adventure for us. We felt a huge sense of accomplishment walking out of there 2.5 hours later.


That evening we went out for a special dinner and back to the Sunset Place.


It was every bit as romantic as you think it would be.


A nice fellow sunset watcher offered to take our photo. 


I thought it ironic that at the same time, a photographer was there taking wedding photos of this sweet new couple as we were there taking pictures on our 22nd wedding anniversary.


The next day we spent the first 4 hours paddle boarding down the Colorado River. We had THE BEST TIME EVER! There were only 3 of us and our guide. We even did paddle board yoga! We went through some level 1 rapids, through which we mostly paddled through on our knees. Chuck tried the last set standing up and fell. He fell off twice and I fell off once. I was shocked that was all. I was expecting alot more falling. Unfortunately, I don't have my pictures of that developed yet. We had to do an old school waterproof disposable camera in order to capture this incredible occasion. When I get them back, I'll be sure to do another blog with those pictures. 

After lunch, we headed back out to Arches National Park and thought we would do a few easy hikes. We managed to walk the path to Balanced Rock and the North and South Windows (below) before calling it a day. 


Just to walk up a simple path took every ounce of our energy. Now we know why. Come to find out, it hit 104 degrees that afternoon and we felt like we were dragging. We were exhausted! We didn't even eat dinner. I think we were in bed by 6:30. 


We stopped for a little walk on the bridge over the Colorado River the morning we left for one more moment in the shadow of those beautiful mountains and rock formations.

And as per tradition, our song for this year was: Perfect, by Ed Sheeran. I think it sums up our love for each other and appreciation for our time together in this Perfect place!


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