Day 33 – Thankful for the Blurred Lines of Reality and Imagination

Ahh, the joys of big city life…  I’m actually typing this while sitting in the 605 in LA as our car idles in Park while we have been completely stopped for over 20 minutes.  LOL, I’ll take the time to blog whenever I can get it!

Today was day full of fun at Universal Studios and I had many memories of our family trip to Universal in Orlando when I was a teen.  While on that trip I was able to experience many new types of rides and learn a lot about how movies are made.  It was a very cool and eye opening experience for me, I had no idea how imagination and reality could be spliced together so incredibly well.  The divide started to be bridged from imagination to movie and then was further closed from movie to ride/experience.  I still have memories from riding in the backseat as we left, dreaming up a sweet new ride that I could build when I was older.

Fast forward to today.  There were so many things that just didn’t seem to be really real, and visiting Hogwarts was a pretty epic start (although the 5:30am drive through Southern California past LA’s skyline with very little other traffic was pretty cool too!).  The attention to detail was amazing and it truly felt like we had stepped into another world.  Not only was the ride fantastic, the whole are had such an incredible magical feeling to it, it felt like we were right there in the Harry Potter books and movies.  From the wands to the stores to the delicious Butter Beer it was spot on.

After more rides that blended imagination and reality we ate lunch and ran into Jenna, the daughter of my past manager at Express.  I hadn’t seen her in about 15 years!  Here we were, halfway across the country in busy amusement park with thousands of people we randomly ran into her, talk about feeling pretty surreal!

As we left the park we decided to try to get a good view of the Hollywood sign.  Thanks to “the Google” we found a route to get a good picture of it.  When that location didn’t work we played it totally by ear and drove around until we saw it.  In that moment of seeing it I experienced yet another moment of reality being a little “off.”  There was a weird feeling of wondering if it was really true that I was seeing it or if it was it part of a dream.  It was a perfectly balanced mix of reality and imagination.


Day 32 – Thankful for the Boys’ Appreciation of Nature

Day 32 – Thankful for the Boys’ Appreciation of Nature

On a typical Kreiling vacation we pack a ton of stuff into the agenda.  It’s fun, we get to see and do a ton, but sometimes it can leave us feeling a little ragged by the end.  In this vacation we planned a few days that were completely open.  Today’s entire schedule was specifically “ocean.” 

Along the ocean theme we had fun with the boys touching the Pacific Ocean from the US for the first time. After spending a lot of time playing in the waves they started looking for shells and looking around in tide pools for different types of life.  There were crabs, barnacles, fish, snails, and anemones everywhere.  We had so much fun exploring the tide pools that we drove to a second set of them further down the coast.  There may have also been some illegal / underground crabs in snail shell races…

While they were exploring I had a blast both doing the same and watching them enjoy nature.  I’m so thankful that they have an appreciation and interest in the outdoors, nature and science.  It’s something that’s very important to Becky and I so I guess they were probably predestined for the same, but regardless I’m happy that many of our best family memories are tied to exploring nature.


Day 31 – Thankful for Nice People Who Restore My Faith in Humanity

This morning we did one of our normal, kinda crazy, travel traditions…  we walked to the airport.  It’s almost exactly one mile from our front door to the entrance of the airport.  Seeing as we are going to be sitting for long periods of time we’ll typically walk to and from the airport every time we fly.  Even when I’m flying alone there’s something very peaceful and relaxing about putting on my headphones, firing up some great music, and walking back to reality.  It’s actually a nice way to transition from travel mode back to reality.

This morning was the first time the boys joined us for this vacation tradition.  They both had their backpacks and Dominic was pulling their wheeled suitcase.  We were having a lot of fun joking around and burning off some of the vacation excitement jitters.  Along the walk there were hundreds of tiny slugs on the ground that held our attention for over half of the hike.

The part that made me smile biggest though was the number of people who stopped and offered us a ride.  Starting with our neighbor Amy and continuing through the couple of cars on their way to the airport and right down to the lady who saw us walk by her house, hopped in her car and offered us a ride, everyone was offering to help.  While we thanked each and let them know we were doing it for fun, we were very appreciative of all of their offers.  How cool is it that so many people were willing to help out random strangers like that?  It was a great reminder of why I should always stop for someone on the side of the road.  Even if they don’t need help you’ll put a smile on their face.


Day 30 – Thankful for Becky’s Pre Vacation Giddiness

This morning I woke up to Becky literally bouncing on the bed singing “vacation” over and over again.  She then busted out a version of Holiday Road from National Lampoon’s Vacation.  The whole morning she was a non-stop bundle of crazy happy pre vacation energy – even while she was brushing her teeth!

While there was another picture of her giddiness while brushing she said I couldn’t post it, so here’s one that’s close from our New Orleans vacation a handful of years ago.

Waking up to her crazy high levels of energy and giddiness left me smiling all day long.  How can your day not be awesome when you have someone that happy first thing in the morning and then sending you giddy texts throughout the day?  I’m glad she’s as pumped for traveling as I am, or even more so as the case may be!


Day 29 – Thankful for Pictures from Past Vacations

It seems that I’ve been going in twelve different directions at once lately as I prep to be out of the office on vacation.  Trying to get everything done includes not just work, it also includes things like taking the boat to storage, buying a washer & dryer, and things along those lines.  Throw in the normal chaos of the Kreiling house and it’s been pretty wild.

While this has been going on there’ve been several reminders of previous vacations.  My Facebook feed keeps showing me pictures from our New Orleans vacation four years ago. Going through my phone I keep running into pictures of previous vacations including Colorado (with the family and with my friends), celebrating Steve’s 40th in Vegas, touching dinosaur bones in Utah, exploring Belize and Australia, and a little bit of Hawaii and Canada mixed in for good measure.

I’ve also been seeing and hearing things that make me long for future trips including Iceland, Ireland, and, of course, Hawaii.

Who knows why, but I really do love travel and seeing and experiencing new things while on our trips.  I’m very thankful for having a wife with the same appreciation and for raising our boys to have the same travel bug.

While I can’t always be on vacation as I would love to be, I’m very thankful for pictures of past vacations that rekindle my passion and make me smile every single time I see them!


Day 27 – Thankful for Al’s Storage

Even though we’ve moved our pontoon to a slip less than 3 miles from our house we still take it to a storage place about 20 minutes away.  Seems crazy, right?  Nope, it’s totally a very sane decision.  Al’s kept our boat in storage for us every year that we’ve had it.  In the summer we leave the trailer there too. Every single year we decide to drive all the way to Brownsville to keep it there because of a handful of reasons.  

First off, I’m pretty sure this is the most scenic storage facility in the world!  Seriously, just look at this place! Nestled in the bluffs it is a great place to drive to and from.  On the way home today I went the long way just to try a new drive home.

Second, the rates are very competitive and he takes great care of our boat.  We’re never nervous about the shape it’ll be in when we get it out, it doesn’t break the bank, and he’s always got it out and ready with less than 24 hour notice.

The thing that keeps us going back more than anything though is Al.  The guy is awesome!  Great values, takes care of us, and is incredibly flexible.  He’s always in a good mood and is smiling and happy to see us.  If we need to drop off or pick up at odd hours he’s got us covered.  If those odd times mean that we have to come back later to finish the apaperwork or cut him a check he doesn’t even question it.  He’s got those excellent old school values of doing business over a handshake and reminds me of the service o try to provide to our customers.  

Mothballing the boat for the year is kind of depressing, but I’m always happy to take a scenic drive to go see Al.


Day 26 – Thankful for Not Driving

I am one very happy Kreiling right now!  Here’s my current view:


I am very grateful for Becky (Max’s mom) driving our family to Madison for soccer games today.  We decided to carpool and she offered to be behind the wheel.

The Beckys (is that the correct plural term for more than one Becky or is it Beckies?) are sitting up front sounding like their having a good time talking.  The soccer boys are all behind me watching a movie, talking, and playing on their electronics.

I’ve got my laptop on top of my lap (I know, ironic, isn’t?) and I’m hammering away on a bunch of things that I needed to get done for work before the next week starts.  I’m in heaven!  Driving is a relaxing thing for me to do once in a while, but sometimes I realize just how much time I’m losing by not being able to get stuff done.  The past hour has been very productive, and I’ll have more than enough time to get caught up on a lot.

Thanks again for driving Becky, you’re the best!!!


Day 25 – Thankful for Living in the Bluffs

Early this morning the boys and I packed up and headed home from Spook O Ree.  As we headed home we caught a wonderful sunrise as the sun slowly, and then suddenly, appeared over the bluffs.

While watching all four of their soccer games we had the bluffs all around us.  While watching my focus would occassionally drift to the top of the bluffs and I was reminded of the trails Becky and I have run up there.  

As we drove home we drove towards an awesome sunset as the sun dropped behind the bluffs of Minnesota and turned the sky and its whisky clouds a brilliant orange.

I am so thankful for having this dazzling beauty all around me all of the time, this place is amazing!


Day 24 – Thankful for Spook O Ree

It’s that time of the year again!  Load up our camping gear and head out with the boys to Spook O Ree, our annual Halloween scouting night.  This year has been a little different as Dominic is now one of the Boy Scouts who scares the Cub Scouts and I on the haunted hayride.  He also camps with them so Gavin and I are on our own.

So far so fun!  Lots of fun, screams, and good times!  

Back to the chaos and haunted houses!


Day 23 – Thankful for Honest People

Four years ago today Jeremy and I went for a pretty sweet trail run in the Hixon Forest trails.  The weather was awesome and we had a great time shooting the bull while enjoying some beautiful fall scenery in the bluffs.  At the end of the run we got back to the car and I realized that somewhere on the 5+ miles of trails the knot that held my car key to my shorts had come undone and I had lost my key!

After several moments of panic I noticed something pretty amazing on my car…

How awesome is that???  In a world when the news is filled with stories of lies, crimes, threats and violence (& that’s just the Presidential candidates!) it is very refreshing to know that there are lots of honest people who do the right thing.