No one Kicks Ass Without Tanker Gas…

Well as most people know our new home will be in New Jersey at McGuire Air Force Base, and Jack will be flying the KC-10 Extender. I don’t think that we could be more excited to get back to the East Coast. It was always in the plan for later in life, little did we know that our plans would change and we would be headed East so soon.

In the past two days, we have had a realization that we are headed back to things that we know and love. We will be close to home, Jack will be about an hour from home, and I will be about 3.5. This is a blessing to us. It means we will be able to spend with our families whenever there is a free minute, and it means that we have our support systems close. However, we both have heard that Bruno is what our families are most excited about. He is one spoiled dog. Speaking of him, he will have endless love, dogs to play with, lakes and oceans to swim in, and many adventures waiting for his little paws.

From what we have heard, we will be out of Oklahoma rather quickly. Jack anticipates that a couple of weeks after getting those new, shiny wings we will be on our way home. We are in the process of searching for housing all over the state of New Jersey. This all depends on jobs and the area. My main concerns are a yard for our energetic pup, a nice area so when Jack is away I am safe, and somewhere that it is easy for us to both get to work.

That being said, I am still on the search for a technical writing job. There are several in Philadelphia that have piqued my interest, and once Jack has orders, I will be applying for positions. I also think that with all the Universities in the tri-state area I could find a job on a campus. Overall, I am so thankful that I will have so many options coming from a place where I had very few.

Lastly, we will begin packing in the next week, or so, this means dividing up possessions with our other housemates, and figuring out exactly what we need for those couple weeks before we have a home.

I am so excited to see how Jack fits in with his new squadron. I know that this is going to be a great ride for us. His plane is incredible and as they say in the refueler world… No one Kicks Ass Without Tanker Gas. On to the next adventure with my boys, our families, and a new plane.

Garden of the Gods

Although I wish I were off on another adventure, I am sitting here reminiscing and dreaming lazily about my next trip. I am sad to say that this summer will likely include moving to our new home, and several weddings across the country, which leaves us with very little time to plan a trip. Therefore, I figured I would discuss one of my all-time favorite adventure places.

On my very first trip to Colorado in August of 2013, I had the opportunity to see Garden of the Gods during the best time of the day, just before sunset. This will always be my favorite time that I spent in the park, and I would suggest it to those in the area during the summer time. The way the sunsets over Pikes Peak and glows against the beautiful red rock will make your mouth water.

Once I moved to the area, Garden of the Gods was one of my favorite places to spend time. It was a great place to get outside, hike, explore, and wander. I felt as if every time I was there, I found a part of the park I had never seen before. Therefore, I suggest it to all visitors. It is the unknown 8th wonder of the world, and you are missing out if you do not visit this incredible park. The park can be accessed 365 days a year; sun or snow and is a great place to picnic, hike, walk your dogs, let your kids run around, and to take in the beauty of our country.

I look forward to bringing my family here in the future. It is one of the places my heart belongs and I look forward to sharing it with as many people as I possibly can.

Garden of the Gods Website: http://www.gardenofgods.com

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Since before my brother and I were born it was decided by my parents that we would be the kids who were constantly dragged on adventures. Over the years, I have seen my fair share of our beautiful country, and I figured I would do several posts on my travels around the country. I will start with more recent events because they are easier to remember and because I have pictures readily available. The older pictures will take a bit longer to obtain seeing as they are on the opposite side of the country at the moment. But that is beyond the point! I suppose I will start with one of my favorite trips taken in Colorado: Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. ( I will include a link to their park website at the end of my post).

The weekend took several weeks of planning. Luckily, one of my best friends families has property in southern Colorado, and her parents were along for the ride and put us up for the weekend at their Ranch. That being said lodging was not an issue for us, but there is lodging in the area. Most people camp, there are all terrain trails that can be taken through the national park, and along these trails are quaint camp sites to be used by park guests. If camping isn’t your style, then there are other options such as cabins, a motel, a lodge, and ranch that can be utilized (reservations must be made ahead of time, plan wisely). Of course, you can research these further by visiting the website posted below.

We took three Jeeps and made an all-day trek through the woods to the dunes. This was the highlight of our trip because all parties enjoy the outdoors and a little thrill. We took Medano Pass into the park; this is where our careful planning took place. We used a Colorado State Gazetteer, in other words, a good, old-fashioned map! We traced our route out in a highlighter days before, and the leader of our Jeep convoy lead the way (I am a damn good navigator).

After our adventure and lunch in the woods, we finally got to the Dunes. The main attraction did not let us down. They are beautiful, and their shapes change depending on the wind, rain, snow, and ice. How cool is that?? We were lucky that Medano Creek still had water trickling through to cool us off on our warm fall day. We took the highway out after an hour and a half in the park and were exhausted.

Overall, I learned so much from taking this trip. Pack an easy lunch. We packed cold cuts, different types of bread, and condiments. Also be sure to include a variety of drinks for all parties involved. On top of our sandwich bar, we packed snacks galore. We were gone from around 8 am until around 8 pm and we knew that snacks would be necessary. Our trip took so long because of the route we chose to take. This trip will be shorter depending on if you are staying close to the dunes, and the way that you come into the park. I learned that our trip was not for the weak of heart, but I would do it again in an instant.

I am hoping to make this trip again in the future with Jack. He is all about the outdoors, Jeeps, and adventures in the woods. I hope this helps you realize that adventure is still out there, that we have some amazing national parks and that Colorado is colorful, wonderful, and welcoming to all!

 

Great Sand Dunes National Park Website: https://www.nps.gov/grsa/index.htm

A little taste of the south…

Hey Y’all,

We haven’t strayed too far from home lately. Except for when we both go to work! Yes, I finally landed a job. I am working at the local college where I am helping students in high school as a tutor. The job is with a program that allows me to help students who live in rural areas, which are low income and have the opportunity to be the first in their families to go to College.

Two weeks ago we made a trip to Oklahoma City to see the Thunder play. It was a great game between the six and seven teams in the conference. Luckily, we chose a game where the Thunder won! Saturday we spent the day at TopGolf and got to wander around OKC for the day.

okc-thunder

Jack completed his second check ride in the T-1, and that means we are in the home stretch. We are five weeks out from finding out what Jack will be flying next, as well as where we will end up soon. Therefore, there is a move in our near future (keep your fingers crossed for us).

So back to why I am really here, Jack requested Jambalaya, I haven’t had it in quite a while and had never made it myself. I found an easy recipe and tweaked it a little bit to go alongside what we needed (Jack is mildly allergic to shrimp).

I figured since the NBA all-star game was being played in New Orleans this was the perfect dish.

So all in all, I will be making this again sooner rather than later.

3 chicken tenderloins, cubed
3 links of Andouille Sausage, cubed
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 white onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 tsp cayenne pepper (go by taste and how spicy you like your food)
2 bay leaves
1 can 28 oz diced tomatoes
1 can 8 oz tomato sauce
3/4 cups rice of your choice
1 1/2 lb medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped into bite size pieces (optional)

Add oil to a large nonstick saucepan. Over medium heat, sauté onion, garlic, bell pepper and celery until onion is translucent. Add parsley, ham, chicken, bay leaf, and cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring often, 5 to 6 minutes. Add tomatoes (with juice), tomato sauce, and 1 3/4 cups cold water. Gently simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Pour rice into the pan and stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, 45 minutes or until rice is cooked and absorbs most of the liquid. Stir in shrimp and cook 5 minutes more. Remove bay leaf. Season to taste with cayenne pepper and salt.

**Different rice varieties will change the cooking time.

I hope y’all enjoy this little piece of the south, and one of Jack’s favorites.

–Alex

Here is a picture of Bruno and Jack to tide you over!

john-and-bruno-1