Monday, January 08, 2007

Past Events and Christmas Vacation

Man, its been quite awhile since I've blogged...I'm going to attempt to go back before Christmas break and remember some of the fun events that happened so I can look back on them when I'm old and gray. :-)

The week of Dec 11-17 was a little busy with getting ready for Christmas with shopping and all, but not too bad. I think that Monday we took a shopping trip around town. On that Wednesday, it was warm outside, so after work, Liz and I went over to Ivy Creek Natural Area for a hour or soand walked around and watched the sun set. It was quite nice. :) On Thursday, we went over for dinner at Allen and Kim's house and had a great time with them. They're good people. :-) Later that week, on Saturday, we had them over for pizza and watched A Christmas Story followed by some card playing. It was a fun evening together. :) Allen had just had his wisdom teeth out, so he missed out on pizza, but I was glad he got to come hang out. Also on Saturday morning, Liz and I had our own Christmas together. We made a big breakfast and then opened our presents to each other. I gave her a new (sweet) laptop for Christmas which she already known about, but was still excited for. :) On Sunday, after church, it was warm out so we decided to go up in the afternoon to Shenandoah. When we got there, we found out that Skyline Drive was closed because an ice storm had knocked down and broken a ton of trees! It was pretty unreal the way the trees looked! Luckily, the AT comes in right at the entrance, so we were allowed to park and hike that a little bit which was fun to do until dark. The next week was Dec 18-24. That Monday, it was warm again and I used that to my advantage to change the oil and prep my car for the long holiday travels that awaited it. The rest of the week felt like it went by really fast! Liz was very busy with finishing thank-you notes and sending Christmas cards, so I spent a lot of my time helping with cooking dinners, doing laundry, etc. And we had to work on packing for our long trip too. We were able to go out for lunch on Wednesday. We were looking for a place called Ciboulette, but after a long search and some inquiry, we found out that they had closed up! Too bad, because I had some coupons for them! So, instead we ate at a good restaurant in the same market place. I think it was called Feast!, with the exclamation mark. I had some glorious Italian Wedding soup. On Friday, after work, we hurriedly finished packing and raced off to Blacksburg. We left like two hours later than we had hoped to, but it worked out okay and we still got to have dinner with Liz's family. On Saturday, we all went down to Statesville, North Carolina for the annual Barnett family Christmas get-together. I drove down Liz, Mrs. P, and Doug and then Laura and Mr. P met us there from coming up from SC. It was a nice time as always and Uncle Raymond's cooking was all the rage. I, of course, ate way too much! I think it was a lot more fun, or at least more comfortable, for me this year being married and actually a member of the family now. :) Sunday was a pretty chill day in Blacksburg. We got to catch up with some people in church at Harvest, and then just hung around Liz's house the rest of the day. We all watched A Christmas Carol together at night which was fun for Christmas eve. :)

Now, into the good stuff- vacation! Well, I guess by that point, the vacation had technically already started. So, the next good part is Christmas! We spent Christmas day at Liz's house. We did their traditional early-morning present opening which was a lot of fun and then chilled out and ate lots of food later and then chill ed out some more. It was a good day. :-) I had fun celebrating Christmas with them for the first time, although I did miss being with my family a bit.

Early on Tuesday morning, Liz and I left for our trip down to Florida. Dad called me up around 5:30 to tell me they had left and then I tried to plan our leaving time so that we could intersect with them in South Carolina some hours later. We ended up leaving later than I had planned - around 8am. We drove for a long time and hit some bad traffic in S.C. After all of that though, we were able to meet my parents at a rest stop within 10 minutes of when they had got there! It was pretty much perfect timing, seeing that its really hard to plan a meeting time when one person has has ~6 hours to drive and the other has ~8 to drive. Before we hit traffic in Columbia, I talked to my Dad on the phone and we were both exactly 31 miles from our meeting point! That was cool. :-) So, after we met with them, we followed them down to our rental place in Orlando. The traffic was pretty terrible on 95 and it took us quite a while to get there. After driving and checking in, I think we finally got into our cool rental apartment around 9pm. My parents went out to get some cooking supplies and pizza and I had a fun time goofing around with my sibs by playing bowling with cups and Horse with the Koosh ball. :P When my parents got back, we all ate pizza and got to bed way too late. :)

Wednesday was a revival day. Liz and I slowly woke up around like 11 or so. We all lazily hung around the apartment a bit and then later in the afternoon (like 2:30) went out to play some putt-putt before dark. That was good times, including my back nine played with a baby stick. :) Me, Dad, and Jon ended up tying in score for the whole round! Golf was followed by a sunset trip to Disney World. We were just going to pick up our tickets for the next day, but decided to tour a bit. We parked at MGM and walked around the inside a bit and then took a Disney boat over to the two big resort hotels and walked around them and the outside a bit. That was fun to show everyone, since I had stayed there 5 years ago. :) We then walked around the Disney Boardwalk area too and that was pretty. We walked over to Epcot and could see inside a little bit, but not too much! We took the boat back from there to MGM and then drove back towards home. We stopped and picked up some Checkers burgers and had those for dinner back at the apartment along with some scrumptious cake. :) We tried to get to bed a little earlier to prepare for the next long day at Disney.

Thursday was a long day! It was full of Disney. We woke up very early and got to Magic Kingdom around 7am. We were some of the very first people to get there and be near the front and line for opening at 8am. It was crazy. The morning was absolutely beautiful. :) I would have enjoyed walking around a little more to enjoy it, but that's okay. We all jumped on Space Mountain first, which was fun and the line wasn't too bad that early. :) We had a scare coming out when Mom wasn't there to meet us. We got out quicker than expected, and she had gone off to ride the little tram ride around! We eventually found her. :-P We spent the rest of the day going around Disney and riding rides and stuff. It was pretty fun, but tiring. My family rode rides ALL day. Liz and I got tired and had to take breaks. I took a nap around 3 in the afternoon, and we spent some time lounging in rocking chairs during sunset. I was glad to have some more relaxing time. Later on that evening, one of my favorite moments occurred. Liz and I were pretty hungry and had been envious of the people we had been seeing with turkey legs all day. We had been searching for the source of the turkey legs off and on since about 11am. Finally, right before 9pm, when the stopped selling them, we FINALLY found them!! We both got a big slab of warm, scrumptious meat and watched a very awesome fireworks show at 9. :) We rode a couple more rides with my family before we all left to go home a little before midnight. It was a 17-hour day at Disney! So tired!

Friday, needless to say, we slept in a little bit more! We headed out to Universal Studios' Islands of Adventure today. We got there around 11 or so. I had a great time there! I really like this park a lot. We first did all the water rides while the sun was out and it was warm. Of course, after the first one, it started getting cloudy! We did the other two anyhow, but didn't dry off until very late in the day! :-/ It was worth it though. I think they have the most fun water rides there. :) We did some other rides all afternoon. One sweet surprise was the Poseidon's Fury ride/show which was VERY cool. :) I was thrilled with it. The Sinbad stunt show was pretty neat too. An awesome thing happened right as the sun went down. We ate dinner, and it rained! It was a heavy, but quick rain and a lot of people left the park. We had a great time after that. We rode Dueling Dragons on both tracks in less than 20 minutes. :) We did the awesome Spiderman ride in less than 30 and finished off the night with a fun trip on The Hulk ride. :) Very fun day, and a great park. Not nearly as tiring or as crowded as Magic Kingdom! We all left the park a little before 10 at night and made a late night Arby's run. :-D It was glorious as always.

Saturday was a restful day for the most part. I woke up a little early with Liz, around 8, and we snuck out to Krispie Kreme to get some fresh donuts. The HOT sign was on. :-D :-D It was really fun, especially since it was Liz's first time experiencing the pure joy of a live Krispie Kreme place. We brought back the donuts for breakfast with the rest of my family. We eventually left to drive out to Cocoa Beach on the east coast. Traffic was pretty lousy, so it took a bit. We finally got out there around 2 or so and got to hang on the beach all afternoon which was a ton of fun. We were there until about 4:30. My parents went to go shop, so it was just us kids. We threw football and frisbie and I did a lot of boogie-boarding which was great fun. :) The waves were very good. After we left the beach, we went to Ron Jon's for a bit and then made our way back to Orlando. We went out to dinner at CiCi's pizza and had a fun time there stuffing ourselves way too full! Later that evening, at the apartment, we had another Christmas time and exchanged presents with my family. :) After that, we packed in preparation for leaving in the morning and got on to bed...

We all arose very early on Sunday morning. My family had to leave and make the long drive back home, so they left around 7:15 or so. Liz and I stayed to spend an extra day in Florida by going to visit her Aunt Silvia and Uncle Terrance in Clearwater. We spent some time on the Internet getting directions and stuff first, and then left to head out to Clearwater around 8:30. We made great time and actually were able to meet them at their church in time for service at 10:30 which was nice. We went out for lunch after that at a Mexican place. It was the best stinkin' Mexican food I can remember. Amazing... :) Had a great time talking with them over lunch too; they're very cool people. After lunch, they showed us around the Clearwater area and we got to walk a beautiful beach. Its a very lovely place to be. :) We also drove around some very fancy waterfront properties and Hulk Hogan drove by on his motorcycle. Later that afternoon, we went back to their house and talked a bit before feeling exhausted and taking about a two hour nap until 6. That evening, we had a great dinner with them and just spent some fun time visiting and chatting and looking at pictures and stuff. We hadn't intended too, but we actually stayed up late enough to watch the ball drop and ring in the New Year! We even stayed up another hour past that, which was fun. We had a great visit with Liz's aunt and uncle. :)

We woke up early Monday morning because we had a long 15 hour drive ahead!! We ate breakfast and then hit the road around 7:30 in the pouring rain. Luckily, it let up after not too long and the drive home went great. Traffic was not heavy and all and it was pretty much smooth sailing. I was very thankful! We got to Blacksburg in almost exactly 12 hours, around 7:30pm. We stopped and had dinner with Liz's family before getting back on the road around 9pm for CVille. We finally arrived home just before 11:30 and we so thankful to get to bed!

So, that was a detailed summary of a great vacation. I really enjoyed it a lot. Despite the long driving, I felt very rested after it and happy to be back home. :) Last week was a little hard getting back into work, but not too bad. I was pretty tired all week and was fending off a sickness by the end of the week that it seemed like everyone at Sperry was catching. :-/ On Thursday, it was pretty warm outside, so we took our new tennis rackets and went down to Pen Park to hit around a little bit. It was fun, although we had no clue what to do... :P

This weekend was a lot of fun. Friday night, we watched Pride and Prejudice together. This isn't the weaksauce new one, this is the old, good one, the 5-hour one. :) We started a little later than would have been good, so we only made it about 3 hours in before I started passing out. We had to postpone the rest, but it was very good and fun to watch. :) Saturday, we had a pretty lazy day for the most part. Later in the afternoon, we left on an incredibly beautiful drive south to Lynchburg where we met up with Solomon and Danielle and their two girls for dinner at 5 at Olive Garden. We had a fun time with them there and the food was amazing as always. :-) Afterwards, we hung out at there house for awhile. I really enjoyed the time catching up and miss getting to talk to Solomon more often. On Sunday, s-school and church were really awesome, especially Pastor Bruce's message. It really got me thinking that I need to work on making my inner motivation for doing things to be love for God and obedience. I think I feel worthless or unproductive so often because my motivation is whack. The afternoon was nice and chill around here. That evening, we went to Awana for the first time at Laurel. It was a fun time and I was very encouraged to be of some help with the kids there. I hope to get to know them better and be more helpful in the future. :) After Awana, we came home and quickly cooked up a tasty homemade pizza for dinner and watched the second half of Pride and Prejudice. It was a very good movie and I really enjoyed it. :)

Well, that's about all I can handle!! Here's some fun pictures:

Hiking in an ice-storm beaten Shenandoah:

Barnett madness at the Christmas get-together!:

Putt-putt with my family in Florida!:

looking over at Epcot at night:

the Disney castle in the morning:

It's a small world!!:

Mom and Dad on Tom Sawyer's island:

Liz with a glorious hunk of meat!!:

Kristin spinning the crazy tea cups!:

about to go on the sweet Poseidon ride:

a view of Islands of Adventure and The Hulk ride:

Kat buried in sand!:

me in all my whiteness trying to catch some waves:

all of us on the beach:

the apartment we stayed in on the top floor:

out on a Clearwater lovely beach:

us with Liz's aunt and uncle:

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