New Mexico – The Surprise Trip


Kara and I were in cahoots. We made plans to drive to New Mexico to surprise Mar for his 40th birthday. We weren’t showing up ON his birthday, but the weekend after his birthday. Completely unexpected! Not only that, Matt’s parents came too! I was a little worried about everyone being squished in our van – 10 people in a 12 person van, 4 of them adults, 2 of them teenagers and then add 2 large car seats to the mix! We rearranged car seats and we actually were so comfortable! The kids behaved really well, especially considering it was an 8 hour drive, and we couldn’t even leave until everyone had gotten home from school! We rolled into Mar and Kara’s driveway a little after midnight. Kara and I had been texting back and forth, so she knew when we’d arrive, but Mar was quite surprised (and so tired!). Kara had done a great job of setting up sleeping spots for 10 extra people (can you believe it!), all without alerting Marlon that there was something fishy going on! We settled everyone into bed and woke up Saturday morning, ready to enjoy Marlon, Kara and Marley for the whole day! What can you do when you only have one day?! 24 hours?! Kara had it all planned out!


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Alison got to go in Marley’s car for the day. That made Alison feel 100% special!

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Kara’s parents always throw together a big breakfast whenever we come down. They are the nicest people you’ve ever met! Today’s menu? Breakfast burritos.  They were so yummy! Matt has brought this recipe home.  He cooked it for the scouts in Moab and has cooked it for us twice at home. We are breakfast burrito lovers!

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Kara’s parents have a dream backyard. Swings (big and little), sand to play in, 4-wheeler trails to drive on and lots of shade to set out your chairs and visit.

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Megan LOVED this little swing. We had to keep convincing her to get off so that other people could have a turn!

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It was sure fun to see all of her smiles!

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Dylan and Jack loved the big rope swings! We’d get them going from opposite ends and they’d try to High Five in the middle!

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Even Alison got on and loved it!

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Marlon gave Ashlyn a mega-push. She seriously flew across the whole yard!

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Jackson liked playing on the little platform on the tree!

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Jackson giving Marley a push on the swing! We sure love this cute girl!

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Kara got out the 4-wheeler and started giving rides. She even let Ashlyn drive!

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Dylan and Jackson!

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Cayden and Matt!

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Marlon and Grandma Lund!


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After leaving Kara’s parents’ house, we drove to Durango, Colorado. It reminds me of Park City! Both were mining towns and both are touristy, although Durango doesn’t seem as crazy as Park City! Our first stop was the train museum. Now, here is where things got a little rough. My little guys were everywhere! I felt like I didn’t have enough hands! Of course, in this picture above I have both of my hands on Dylan which left no hands for Megan or Alison. Are you ever around people and your children are always well behaved in front of them and it always seems like you have it together? So that’s the way they picture you as always being, even though some moments you really are that way and other moments you aren’t at all?  I feel like Mar and Kara are around me when my kids are falling apart. My children are good a lot. They really are! I wouldn’t be able to do so many outings if they weren’t! But…. there are the days when it’s harder and the parent to kid ratio just doesn’t seem big enough! I always wonder if that’s how they picture me in my everyday life- with kids running around, not wanting to listen, begging for souvenirs… I don’t know why the meltdowns always happen in front of them!

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I do have to say that these miniature train sets were amazing! They were so fun to watch! Dylan and Jackson love it when Matt gets out his little set and they really enjoyed watching these train!

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After the train museum, we walked Main Street and shopped for souvenirs. We had a great time and the candy store (I forgot its name but it was really cute!) We loved looking at all of the unusual treats! We had dinner at a big seafood restaurant and enjoyed cracking open crab, peeling shrimp and all sorts of dipping sauces.


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When we got home from Durango,  I took Dylan and Jackson to the park.  They love this park! Dylan asked me so many times during our drive up if we could go but I wasn’t sure we’d have time. Voila! We had an hour and took off!

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We had the park to ourselves! When we got home we put everyone to bed, the boys picked up Cold Stone ice cream and we played scum until we couldn’t keep our eyes open any longer.


I love going through ruins and seeing a physical remnant of history. It’s so beautiful and makes the past a vibrant reality! We decided to stop by on our way out and let the kids earn their Jr. Ranger badges as well!

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This is part of the Great Kiva. I  love the little ladder!

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Ashlyn is showing Dylan some rabbits hopping across the grounds! Marley and Alison are in the background with their workbooks.

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Look at all of these rooms! In this area there were over 400 rooms and this was 3 stories high.

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This would be our family’s room. So much space! Ha! You have to walk through other families’ rooms to get to this one and we were joking about having to get up in the middle of the night to get a drink or go to the bathroom. Everyone is just so connected!

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Marlon, Marley, Cayden, Megan, Jackson, Grandma Lund and Grandpa Lund

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One thing that always surprises me is how LOW the doorways are. Constant stooping!

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Alison, Marley and Dylan

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Dylan always likes to squeeze into tiny spaces!

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Finishing up our Jr. Ranger workbooks. Alison earned her first Jr. Ranger badge! They had a workbook for preschoolers- I’d never seen that before!

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While we were sitting at the top of a hill, finishing up the workbooks, Alison would run and and down this little road.

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Alison and Marley, running to Grandma!


After the ruins we began our drive home. On our drive to Mar and Kara’s house I’d seen the sign for Newspaper Rock, near Monticello (I think). There was no time to stop then, but on our way back Matt humored me and we had a short diversion! We learned about this when Cayden was in Knowledge Bowl. The theme that year was geography, and the topic I was in charge of teaching was Utah geography. I didn’t grow up in Utah, so I had to learn everything so that I could teach it. This was one of the places I really wanted to see!

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Here’s a little info: “Newspaper Rock State Historic Monument is a Utah state monument featuring a rock panel carved with one of the largest known collections of petroglyphs. In Navajo, the rock is called “Tse’ Hone'” which translates to a rock that tells a story. The petroglyphs were carved by Native Americans during both the prehistoric and historic periods. There are over 650 rock art designs. The drawings on the rock are of different animals, human figures, and symbols. These carvings include pictures of deer, buffalo, and pronghorn antelope. Some glyphs depict riders on horses, while other images depict past events like in a newspaper.” (Source)

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Here it is in real life! It’s so big!

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Everyone got to have a good look!

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It was also a good time to climb on rocks, stretch your legs and explore!

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There was a little trail that led down and around… in a loop. Perfect for mom and dad to stay up top and still keep an eye on the hikers. Dylan ventured up a little higher….

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… but then found a perfect spot to rest.

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Gorgeous flowers!

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I’m so glad we stopped!


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