Here’s a countdown to tell you about our vacation in a fun way.

Top 5 of Moab:

5. Scenic Drive on Utah Highway 128 through the canyon bordered by the Colorado River!  (Followed up with a hike through Fisher Towers)


4. Backpacking into Elephant Canyon, the 8 mile hike in The Needles and specifically seeing Chesler Park in Canyonlands National Park!


3. Ranger guided Fiery Furnace hike in Arches National Park!


2. Total of 34 miles hiked through Utah desert in this amazing region of the US!  Lots of great photography!


1. Final outdoor adventure with only the two of us!


Honorable Mentions:

  • Being completely unplugged from technology for almost an entire week.
  • Surviving on only one shower in 7 days, yikes!
  • Cold drinks and A/C after hikes on the hot days.
  • Remembering that the tent doesn’t keep the sand out.
  • Cool temperatures on several different days to better enjoy hiking.
  • Kara’s first time pooping in a bag and Nick’s [astonishing] pooping twice in one day at two national parks in two different states (UT/Arches then CO/Black Canyon of Gunnison).

Please watch this 15 minute video which has many of the photos that depict our latest adventure!

2013 was an adventurous year for us!  We have exceedingly and richly blessed to have had shared so many good memories and times of joy.  In reflection of the last 12 months, our top 10 events were as follows:

#10 – Completion of our kitchen!  The backsplash was the last remaining item to finish our remodel project from 2012.


#9 – Hostetler family reunion.  It was good to connect with Nicolas’ extended family on his grandfather’s side.


#8 – LK10 conference for equipping house/simple churches.


#7 – September’s excursions and travels which included the following photo at the Colorado Mountain Wine Festival in Palisade.


#6 – Hiking the 14’er of Gray’s Peak. – Kara’s first ever


#5 – Off-roading in “Fern” (our newer jeep).  The below photo was from Hancock pass around the Independence holiday.


#4 – Lots of camping!  With the fire bans in 2102 and little camping because of it, we took full advantage to camp as much as possible, especially being able to do good off-roading in Fern.  The below photo was camping with the 2 oldest Girard girls, Eva and Elise, near Rocky Mountain National Park. Other camping excursions included Deer Creek Campground and Tunnel Campground.


#3 – Being able to help our grandparents at Thanksgiving.


#2 – Our vacation adventure in New Mexico which included the ABQ Balloon Fiesta.


#1 – Family visits from Girards (August) and Reimers (December).



We had been planning a camping vacation to Utah to Arches and Canyonlands National parks, however a few days before leaving we learned of major flooding in Canyonlands and then the government closed all national parks.  So last-minute we decided to head to New Mexico instead.  We reserved a few places to stay and left some nights open just in case we could still go south to Carlsbad Caverns NP.  As we were packing we left all the camping gear realizing that it really would be too cold to camp so we shouldn’t drag all the supplies.

So began our unplanned vacation. . .

IMG_0025Saturday highlights include: arriving in Albuquerque, NM and visited wineries. Casa Rondena, Milagro winery, Corrales Winery, Pasando Tiempo, and Gruet. They all had something different to offer, but what stood out to us was Milagro’s casualness and Pasando Tiempo’s personal touch (served out of a refurbished garage at his house).   😉




0fiestaSunday we went to the International Balloon Festival and ate at Sadie‘s after wandering through old town. It was amazing to see hundreds of hot air balloons lift up for a couple of house. We also enjoyed the live music, history and all the adobe buildings we walked through.


IMG_0405Monday we headed to Petroglyphs National Monument (partly city run) and out to Grants, NM to do some off-roading and night photography. The off-roading was on a scenic byway that actually had road signs in the middle of nowhere.  We saw two vehicles in the 30 mile drive.  We headed back a different way to make a full circle and drove by some fabulous scenery of the Narrows and La Ventana Natural Arch in the El Malpias National Monument area.  We tried to hike in to some caves but they were all roped off, the arch was not so we could see it.

IMG_0524Tuesday we went the long route to Santa Fe, though some amazing scenery! Enjoyed wine at Estrella del Norte Vineyard. We checked in with our gracious host and then headed out to explore downtown Santa Fe.




IMG_0606Wednesday we explored downtown Santa Fe and the art at the Capitol building. We also explored along the famous Canyon Road filled with art galleries.  We checked out the local historic church buildings.  The oldest church building and the oldest home in the US are in Santa Fe.  We enjoyed much of the history of the area.



20131010_174439Thursday we tried to go see some Pueblos and tried to hike to a waterfall, crazy wind and rain sent us to Don Quixote Distillery and Winery and TerraCotta Wine Bistro. We ended up at TerraCotta kind of on accident, but then ended up thoroughly enjoying it.  We were there early for a glass of wine and figured we would get some New Mexican food for dinner later, however they had a great happy hour deal so we also ordered a cheese platter and enjoyed hanging out with the staff before it got busy.

IMG_0752Friday we headed to Taos. We arrived in Toas and visited the Toas Plaza and at lunch at the Eske‘s Brewery. We toured some art galleries. Nick especially enjoyed a photography one. We then visited the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge and off-roaded down into the gorge. Visited Vivac Winery and stayed at the Abominable Snow Mansion. This hostel was one of the first that really felt like a hostel. . . very interesting!

IMG_1049Saturday we took the slow route home, enjoying scenery of the Sangre de Cristo mountains and lunch at Obie’s BBQ near Walsenburg, CO.  We then went to Kozy Korner to get frozen yogurt and visit our dear friends Al and Mitzi who own the place in CO Springs before finally driving home!


A video of all our photos for everyone to enjoy!

So this summer is my time to relax as well as save us some money by DIY around the house.  Yesterday I tackled the plumbing under our bathroom sink, the one in our bedroom.  It’s been draining very slowly for a few months now and has been on the To Do list since the fall.  Yikes. In the mean time I’ve tried various home remedy (not super chemically see other posts on my philosophy of chemicals) products to try to clean it out, it’s not been great and cleaning is really annoying when it doesn’t drain right away, so it was the day to take it apart and truly clean it out.

I began by removing the drain stopper and cleaned that out. I then pushed a wire brush down the sink hole and into the plumbing only to pull it up and have it spray black gunk all over the sink/mirror/wall/floor and me. At which time the brush went away and I started taking it apart.

I unscrewed the “pea trap” I think, the uneven U shaped piece off.  I do know enough to have a bucket under the sink at this point, which was good as the piece was full of gunk.  This doesn’t show how gross it was or how gunky, but I proceeded to wash it, yes even with soap to clean it up.  I then unscrewed the next piece which wasn’t U but had a bend in it and also through the gagging cleaned that out.

Now this was what my pipes looked like and I continued to smell something nasty, so I briefly put my finger into the pipe on the left.  BIG MISTAKE.  All I felt was gunk, no hole or anything.  So I started trying to unscrew that pipe which is attached to the pipe sticking out of the wall.  I couldn’t do it, so after a while I sent a picture text to my dad with a note to call me when he could.  In the mean time I started looking for a wire hanger I could use to dig out the gunk. I even took a picture to confirm the gunk inside the pipe.  Here you can see where it comes from our wall through the half painted cabinet (I didn’t do that) to connect to the sink.

He finally called and confirmed that I couldn’t take it apart due to being glued together so after hanging up, I started digging with the hanger.  I pulled out so much gunk it was really grossing me out. Here’s the hanger in most of the way working on getting the black gunk out of the pipes.

Finally I got what I could get out and put it all back together.  I must have loosened the pipe from the sink because then it started leaking a bit, so I waited till Nick came home to see if he could tighten everything further to prevent the leaking.  I will still probably put some Lye (I have for soap making) down the drain to fully clean it. Anyway, that was the adventure in plumbing for yesterday.