Colorado Springs!

We spent two nights in Colorado Springs, hoping to give the boys a break from our long drives.  We were so glad we did!!  There is so much to do, it makes me want to go back and just spend a week there.  For our two nights in Colorado Springs, we tried Air BnB for the first time.  Here is the sweet little house we stayed in:


Originally a Montgomery Ward catalog home!


The boys eating breakfast in the dining room of our Air Bnb house in Colorado Springs.

More on our AirBnB experience another time – but it was amazing, and we will definitely use them again!

We really wanted our time in Colorado Springs to be restful.  There are so many amazing activities, museums, etc. to visit, but for our trip, we chose to focus on Garden of the Gods.    We have visited several parks, but had not had enough time for the boys to really get to do everything they wanted to do.   We planned on spending as long as the boys wanted at GotG so they could climb around on the rocks and hike around as well.


Carter and Henry at Garden of the Gods.


Henry’s collection of pine cones.


We took a tour, then spent some time at the Visitor’s Center, and then went back to climb around and hike a little.  The Visitor’s Center has lots of great exhibits, and a fun film that the boys enjoyed.  The visitor’s center is also where you can book jeep tours and other fun activities.  (They also have some delicious fudge that you can sample.)  We bought some post cards for the boys to send to friends back home.  All in all, it was a great time and I think the boys really enjoyed being outside in the mild temperatures and the break from being in the car all day.

After Garden of the Gods, it was time for lunch. On the recommendation of a friend from high school who attended the Air Force Academy (shout out to my birthday twin James!) we took the boys to The Airplane Restaurant.  You can eat inside a “fully intact Boeing KC-97 tanker.”  The restaurant is full of model airplanes, memorabilia, artifacts, etc, so even if you can’t sit in the plane, it is still a fun restaurant to visit.  The boys were super excited when we were seated in the plane.  While we waited for our food, Chas took the boys to check out the cockpit.


Happy Boys at The Airplane Restaurant!


Teddy got his turn “flying” the plane.

After lunch, we went back to the house for naps.  We had big plans to do something else in the afternoon, but decided to let the boys get some rest.  That night, we took advantage of a close Trader Joe’s and our kitchen and ate dinner at the house, followed by a dip in the hot tub.

Itinerary for Colorado Springs

Morning:  Garden of the Gods:  Tour, Visitor Center, hiking and bouldering on our own

Lunch:  The Airplane Restaurant

Afternoon activity:  Naps!  (for everyone!)

Dinner:  Trader Joe’s

Evening:  Dip in the hot tub.

Things we liked about today:  Being able to really stretch our legs and not have to leave in order to make it to another city by a certain time.  Loved having our own house to go back to and take a rest.  The Airplane Restaurant is a fun place to take kids – probably not someplace Chas and I would go by ourselves – but a fun novelty for the boys.

Things we would do differently:  We would love to spend more time in Colorado Springs. There is so much to do!!  I don’t think there is anything we would change about our day – we really got the chance to recharge our batteries after a few days of lots of car travel.





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Day 2: Lubbock to Colorado Springs

We’re trying to see as many National Parks, National Monuments, etc. on our trip as possible.  So, when we left Lubbock on Saturday morning, we headed directly to the Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument.  It is outside of Fritch, Texas, and before doing research for this trip, I had never heard of it.


Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument outside Fritch, Texas.

A few fun things we’re doing to help the boys get excited about National Parks – we each have our own National Parks Passport and will get them stamped at each national park/national monument, etc that we visit.  We’re also having the boys participate in the Junior Ranger programs at the parks.  The Alibates Flint Quarries were our first stop, because it is located in Texas and we wanted our first passport stamps to be in Texas.

We were welcomed to Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument by a 4 foot long snake that slithered up while Chas was in the bathroom.  I hate snakes.  HATE.  This one apparently was:  a.  not venomous and b. fascinating to all four male Semples.  I still shudder thinking about watching it slither all over the place.  But it was definitely something we won’t forget!


The snake is in the flower bed – you can see him just above Henry’s head.  

Inside the visitor’s center, we saw a short film about the Flint Quarries looked at their exhibit, and picked up Junior Ranger packets for Henry and Carter.  After we walked around and worked on the Junior Ranger program, we took a drive on the park road.  We stopped back at the visitor center and the ranger checked the boys Junior Ranger packets, and the boys were awarded their junior ranger badges and administered their oath.


After finishing up at Alibates, we continued on our trip – next stop New Mexico!  Except we ended up stopping in Texline – and now Day 2 will also be known as “the day the power steering went out on the car in Texline.”  We filled the car back up with power steering fluid, but it is a persistent problem that we might have fixed while we are in Jackson.  At least there, we have 5 days – and could rent a car pretty easily.

ANYWAY…back on the road….headed to New Mexico.  It was about this time that we brought out the DVD player for the first time.  It had already been a pretty long day and we had a long way to go, so I thought – “what the heck?”  I’m kind of impressed we made it that far without using it.

We crossed into New Mexico and immediately saw a pronghorn, which was super exciting for the oldest male Semple in our car.  After enough time, Teddy would point out the window and say “One! One!” because he had heard us saying “there’s one!”

We didn’t have much time (because of our delay in Texline with the power steering issue) but I still wanted to try to make it to Capulin Volcano National Monument.  I first visited Capulin as one of the stops on our “Colorado Field Trip” in 8th grade.  We drove into the park at 4:51 – and the rangers were already closing down for the day.  The Rangers were so nice – they let me get stamps in all our passports and they opened up the road so we could be the last car up to the top of the volcano for the day.


Totally worth it for the view.  

We made it to Colorado about 8pm.  We rented a house via AirBnb.  It’s my first time using that – so definitely excited to report on how it goes.  We’re spending all day Sunday in Colorado Springs and will leave on Monday to head toward Wyoming.  I’m definitely looking forward to making sure sweet Teddy gets a good nap, as he has not been sleeping well in the car.

Overheard today:

Henry:”Guys, guess what happens if I get bit by a rattlesnake? No cryin’.  That’s right – I got shots and I didn’t cry.”

Henry as we were getting in the car to leave Alibates:”Wait guys, are we leaving?”  Us:”yes.”  Henry: “Buy why are we leaving a national park?!”

Chas (as we entered New Mexico):  “Look boys!”  Grasslands!
Carter: “(audible gasp) LIONS?!”








Posted in Big Adventure 2016, National Park Service Centennial, travel, Vay-cay | Leave a comment

Austin to Lubbock


We made it!  We are all happily in our beds in Lubbock, Texas.  We left Austin around 10 am, which was only 1 hour later than we had hoped. This might be a record for a Semple family departure.  Our first stop was in Llano, to get gas, and we let the boys get out to “help.”  Carter loves to wash the windows on the car.  Henry found a butterfly.  Teddy amused himself by pointing out colors, numbers and letters on the fuel pump.


His favorite number is seven.  

It was such a good reminder that young children can really find fun anywhere, doing anything.  We got back in the car and drove to Brownwood for lunch. We stopped at the Runaway Train:


It was a fun restaurant, the food was decent, and we all enjoyed the break.

Almost immediately after we got back in the car, THIS happened:


It was so amazingly, blissfully, (briefly) quiet.

We made one other quick stop outside of Abilene, and arrived in Lubbock around 6pm.  The boys have been so excited to visit Texas Tech.  We went straight there.  They loved it.


Probably the highlight for the boys was getting to visit the football field.


We had dinner at Orlando’s – got to our hotel, and have collapsed into bed.  Can’t wait to head to Colorado tomorrow!

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We’re Off, Off and Away!!

We’re headed out!  Big Adventure 2016 has begun!  The boys are very excited about sleeping in a hotel tonight.  I’m very excited about the noise cancelling headphones Chas surprised me with as a road trip present! 


“Are you really blogging this?” -Chas to me

“Why do you think you’re exempt from being small?”  -Chas to Carter

“Henry called me a chud!” -Carter to the general car area.

“Funny.”  -Teddy

“Carter, I swear, if you do that to your brother again, I will leave you at a road side stop somewhere between here and Wyoming.”  -Me, before we were even in the car.

Posted in Big Adventure 2016, travel, Vay-cay | 1 Comment

The Mountains are Calling and I Must Go…


The Famous Moulton Barn on Mormon Row with the Cathedral Group in the background

A famous John Muir quote says “The mountains are calling and I must go.”  Well, our family is headed out on a road trip leaving June 3.  Our ultimate destination, and the place we will spend 5 glorious nights – Jackson, WY, Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park.  I cannot wait.

I am definitely not a person anyone would describe as “outdoorsy” but I am when I am in Wyoming. I first traveled to Wyoming many years ago with my sister, on our way to take her to a summer internship in Washington state.  I loved all of the trip:  we had fun escaping Texas and loved traveling through Colorado.  When we got to Wyoming though, I was just fascinated.  The colors seemed brighter, the sky taller, the spaces opener (ha).  When we got to Jackson, as we drove into town I told my sister, “we’re staying here for two nights.”


Elk Antler Arches on the Jackson Town Square

My sister and I created so many fun memories those couple days we spent in Jackson.  We took a totally touristy tour bus trip into Yellowstone. We still joke about our bus driver who had an odd obsession for all the bad things that could happen to you in Yellowstone.  “What’s the most dangerous animal in Yellowstone?” he asked.  “BEARS!”  “Wolves!”  “Bison!”  “No, he answered – MAN.”  (groan.)  Anyway, we loved it so much that we made sure to stop back through at the end of the summer when Katie was driving back from her internship and we followed that trip a couple years later with a trip to Jackson during the Elk Antler Auction.  (Adorable boy scouts selling off antlers they collected from the National Elk Refuge…the antlers frequently are bigger than the boy scouts selling them.)


I mean seriously, how cute is this?

Just before Henry was born, Chas and I took a trip to Jackson.  It was Chas’ first time in the area, and my 4th.  I hoped he would love it as much as I do.


A highlight of our trip – dinner at Jackson Lake Lodge, where it is completely acceptable to bring binoculars to look for wildlife while you enjoy your dinner.

Now I am going back for the 5th time, and taking my 3 excitable male children with me.  It is a trip I have been looking forward to for quite a while.  Showing the boys one of my favorite places, and hopefully sparking a joy for travel as well as a love of our National Parks.

More to come on how we’re preparing for a 2 week road trip and some of our plans for stops along the way.

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Welcome welcome little one.

We welcomed Henry Odell Semple on November 28, 2011 at 2:47 in the afternoon.

This beautiful boy weighed 9 lbs, 5 oz (!) and was 20 inches long.

When we were considering boy names we both loved Henry.  We both liked certain nick names too –  Chas was a fan of Hank, whereas, I really could picture a mischievous little boy called Harry running around our house.  AND, there’s always HOS – appropriate considering our little boy is not so little.  For now, I just call our little guy Henry, or if I’m really loving him, Henny.

We are so thankful that Henry is now a member of our family.  We can’t wait to see him grow up.

Posted in Happy Birthday, HOS, Milestones | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Fall Fun!

It was a beautiful fall day and we decided to get up early and head out to Sweetberry Farms in Marble Falls.  Carter and I went last year and had a great time. In fact,  check it out – here are a couple pictures from our trip to Sweetberry last year.

I can't believe this was a year ago.

The goats were a hit last year.

Our punkin.

Flash forward a year.  WOW.

The goats were still a hit.


The pumpkins were biiiiiiiig!

But THIS year, Carter rode a horse!  (And loved it.)

What fun to ride a horse!

And THIS year, Daddy went with us.  We were a little excited.

Dad makes everything more fun!

And THIS year, there was a fire engine!!!  The firefighters from the Marble Falls Volunteer Fire Department were SO nice.

Not sure if Carter or Chas had more fun with the fire engine....

What a great day. Can’t wait for next year.  Imagine the pictures then – TWO kiddos.  I predict there will be much more wrangling involved….

Happy Fall Y'all!



Posted in Carter-y goodness, Holidays | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment