Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Weekend with friends

The Thursday after we got home from Croatia Blake had to go to North Carolina for some business stuff. He left really early in the morning, then I got the 3 Hatch girls that evening, for the weekend. Then Friday night i got the 4 Hartvigsen kids. So, for a few hours on Friday night I had 12 kiddos. That was even during dinner time. I was amazed at how smoothly it went. The kids all had so much fun playing together and the girls were all tons of help with dinner! We really had a lot of fun together. Then Lauren came and got the older boys and Alissa and dropped off Avery. So there were 10 kids here for the night. All the girlies were so cute in their matching jammies. In the morning the girls made us German Pancakes for breakfast. By the time the Hartvigsen's came to get their kids that afternoon I was in shock with how smooth everything went and how much fun we had together. The kids were all great!

 Sunday morning Remi and Shaylee made a bunny cake for Easter, and Broden and Rilyn made an Easter Egg castle with legos. We got all ready for church and even made it to church early. I was amazed how all 8 kiddos with me sat pretty quietly during sacrament meeting. During Sacrament meeting Remi was sitting next to me and kind of acting nervous. Then she was reading in her notebook instead of singing. I almost said something, then I realized she was reading her testimony and preparing to bear her testimony. Shaylee and Remi both Bore their testimonies. I was so proud of them! What a good example they are to their friends. After Sacrament meeting all the older kids went to their classes and I took Quincey to nursery with me. Thankfully someone in the bishopric took Kelsi for me, since Blake was gone. We have such amazing people in our ward, always willing to help out other people.

 For the rest of the Hatch's time here we went for walks, had easter bunny cake, jumped on the trampoline, watched movies, had FHE and just enjoyed having no school! Tuesday was Remi's birthday, so we had cinnamon rolls and served her breakfast in bed. We celebrated her birthday in doses this year. Some on her birthday, some the next day when dad got home, and some after school started again with her friends! She is so understanding about our crazy schedule. She constantly amazes me with how willing she is to help. She always wants to help and looks for ways she can help me with responsibilities. She always gets up in the morning, showers, reads, does piano and gets all ready for school without me telling her what to do. Then she looks for what she can do to help getting everyone else ready and help with lunches. I couldn't do it without her! I love how Remi is learning to play the piano so well and loves it. She is learning to play the simplified hymns and can play a few hymns and primary songs in the regular books. Its fun to listen to! Remi we are so proud of you and the young women you are becoming!

Happy 10 years, a little early!!!

I have been wanting to go somewhere big for our 10 year anniversary. I thought another service trip to Peru would be perfect, but the timing just wasn't right. With getting ready to move and transition out of the Air Force, and taking time off etc, etc... We just didn't have the time, money or energy to make it happen. And we are so close to Europe, we might as well enjoy one last trip! 

The first year we were here we saw some of Blake's co-workers pictures of a place they went called Plitvice National Park. I have wanted to go ever since. It looked beautiful. We tried to find a flight that would leave on a Friday and return on a Sunday and the only ones flew into Trieste, Italy. So we did it! The Hatch's watched the older kiddos and Kelsi stayed with the Koffords. We left bright and early on Friday morning at 5:00 am and flew to Trieste. We picked up our rental car and were off!

The car looked really nice, but it had no power. It was funny trying to speed up. Blake had to be careful to not pull out in front of anyone. We stopped to grab some food at a little grocery store in Italy, then into Slovenia and onto Croatia. We borrowed the Ingersoll's GPS because ours doesn't have Eastern Europe and when ours asks about toll roads it says do you want to take the toll road, so we click yes. I guess theirs says do you want to avoid toll roads, but we didn't' read it closely and just clicked yes. So our drive turned out to be a crazy back road, in the middle of nowhere kind of drive. It was beautiful and we saw things I'm sure we wouldn't have seen on a toll road.

I loved the bright houses. Not all of them were bright, but I liked taking pictures of the bright ones.

The first part of our drive was on the mountains next to the beach. There were tunnels everywhere adn you could look down to the ocean. We pulled off into one little town and took some pictures at the beach. I had our snorkeling stuff just in case, but it was too cold.

The water was so clear, you almost didn't need snorkels. It was amazing. I can see why the beaches in Croatia are so popular. We came at a great time though, there were no people!

After we left the road on the mountains by the beach we drove for about 2 hours on back roads with not a single town. Well, not town like we are used to a town. There would be town signs next to the road pointing down a little dirt road that had like 2 or 3 houses at the end. Not sure if those were considered towns, or if the signs were the names of the property or something. The one place that maybe was cinsidered a town had probably like 30 houses and a church. No store, no gas station, just houses, a church and........ A HUGE soccer stadium!!! It was so funny. I don't think we passed enough houses to have enough people to fill the whole stadium, but it was there and it was really nice too. At another point we saw a bunch of horses in the mountains. I don't know if they were wild or not, but there weren't any fences or cattle guards or anything preventing them from going wherever. It was like this everywhere. Everything seemed like public land, like we could go hiking or picnicking wherever. No fences or no trespassing signs. It seemed like a very free laid back country.
Eventually we found our hotel for the night and decided to go to Plitvice for the evening to see what was there, or at least hike around the area. We found a place to park our car and a trail to take. We walked for a while and it actually led us right to the park. It was as beautiful as the pictures. I sometimes wonder how much people photoshop their pictures and if things are going to look as good in real life as they made them look with photoshop. It did! It was amazing. The camera actually didn't do it justice. We walked one loop that night then made a plan for the next morning. Then we headed to a restaurant for dinner. We each got a whole plate of different kinds of meat and french fries and it wasn't very much. Only about $10 a plate. I think Blake had like 5 or 6 different kinds of meat on his plate. He loved it! I had a few different things on my plate and didn't like it. I filled up on french fries and shared some of Blake's food. After dinner we stopped at the store to get some food for breakfast and lunch the next day. Then we just relaxed in our hotel room, read and watched a movie on TV.

Our little kitchen in our hotel. It was really a room in someone's house, completely separate from the rest of the house.
Our bedroom. It was nice and cozy and because they don't function on euros it was pretty cheap!

The next morning we parked at the Plitvice parking and paid to get into the park and walked to the boat dock. We took the boat across the lake and started hiking. We hiked along waterfalls and from lake to lake all morning. It was so fun to just enjoy being together, in such a beautiful place. We barely saw any people and the weather was perfect. The actual park is amazing. It is a series of Lakes all connected by waterfalls. The way they made the paths really allows you to enjoy the beauty and grandeur of the waterfalls. They are wooden paths, that go right over the water, without guardrails, so you can see everything.

When we were walking at one point we saw this plastic lizard in our path. At least I thought it was plastic. It was real though and not a lizard. I think it was a salamander. We found quite a few of them in the path. They looked so fake.
This was one of my favorite views. It is hard to pick a favorite, but you could see so much from up here and with the sun hitting the water it was so beautiful!

This waterfall was crazy. There was a rock sticking up in the water in front of the waterfall.

Here the water was going through a whole in the ground then shooting out the side of the mountain as a waterfall.

The upper lake was perfectly still. The reflection of the mountains and clouds was so pretty and peaceful.

When we were reading about the park and looking at the maps there was one place we really wanted to go that went behind the waterfalls, but when we got to the path, it was closed. We decided to walk past the sign and see what was down there. We found that the waterfall was going over the wall and making a waterfall down the stairs, that were the path. It looked really neat and safe, so after debating for a while, we decided we would walk down it. We took off our shoes and socks and rolled up our pants. Blake went first, because I was scared of slipping. A couple steps down and he fell forwards. He pulled his let out of the water and had a big cut on his shin. He snapped a quick picture of me, then came back up. The blood was gushing down his leg. The cut was to his bone, right on his shin. One of the stairs was broken, so when he stepped down his food went into a hole and his momentum was still going forward, so he went forward hitting his shin on the edge of the rock, cutting it. We did what we could with what we had. He put pressure on it with my sock, then we put a hair thing around it to keep it tight and hiked out to see if they had any first aid stations. We got the the tour guide sign in area and they had a first aid kit they let us use. So Blake used some cleaning stuff and dumped it all over his leg, then bandaged it up. They called a park car to come get us and take us to our car. We definitely learned our lesson. STAY ON THE PATH, no matter how safe it looks. They had the sign there for a reason and we are so grateful it didn't turn out worse.

When we got to our car we started heading to our next place to stay, a bed and breakfast in Slovenia. We wanted to find a Pharmacy on the way to get some pain killers for Blake. The cut was deep and needed stitches, but we weren't very sure about the medical facilities in Croatia, so we wanted to wait. We stopped at the market and Blake tried to find some pain killers, they didn't have any at the store, but one of the workers took pity on him and she had some tylenol in her purse she gave him. Then we headed on the road again.

When we were driving into one town there was a guy standing on the side of the road waving a flag. At first we thought he was a construction worker or something. Then we realized he was a police officer. We pulled over and he told us we had been speeding and needed to see our passports. He said the fine is usually 1000 kuna, but since we are tourists is is 500 Kuna. We said we would have to go to the ATM, we didn't have that much. They were going to keep Blake's passport while we went to the ATM, but we weren't comfortable with that. So we offered Euros. We ended up paying about $50 in a mixture of Kuna and Euros. It was strange for us to barter with police officers for the amount of the ticket.

When we got to the town near our bed and breakfast we stopped at an Aldi to check for pain killers and grab a couple treats. They didn't have pain killers, but said the pharmacy would open that night from 8-9pm. The pharmacies are only open from like 9-12 in the morning on weekends, but this one has a one hour window on Saturday night. So we checked into our place, talked with Marta, the owner for a while, then headed into town for dinner and to go to the pharmacy.

The pharmacy was open so Blake talked to the pharmacist and wanted to get some Ibuprofin and an antibiotic. She wanted proof that he was a doctor before she would give him an antibiotic, so he gave her his American Dental Association card. I guess because it said Dr. Jones, it was good enough proof. Then she told us the Urgent Care right next door was still open. So, we headed there. We walked in and Blake talked to the lady at the front desk. He siad, "Can I just talk to the doctor." The doctor walked into the room and Blake said," I cut my leg pretty bad, to the bone and was just wondering....." They took him straight back to the exam room to examine his leg. I guess just wanting to "talk" to a doctor about a cut to the bone just doesn't work. They took off his bandage and examined his leg. They flushed it to get it cleaned out really good and moved it all over to look inside. Then said he needed to go to a surgeon to get it stitched up. Then they bandaged it up and gave him a shot of pain killer in his bum. Then we went back to the pharmacy and picked up some more Ibuprofin. We decided not to head to the surgeon that night and just wait until the next day when we got home to go to the doctor. So we headed to find food. By this time it was after 8 and we were starving! We found this little restaurant and ordered some food. It was really good. I got turkey with some cream sauce and cheese on top, it was amazing! My mouth still waters thinking about it.

After dinner we headed back to our room and fell asleep listening to General Conference.

In the morning when we got up, Marta had prepared a special breakfast for us to celebrate our 10 year anniversary! She made Tiramisu and had fresh bread and homemade jam and fresh flowers for us. It was beautiful and delicious!

After breakfast we headed to some really cool looking caves. You could only go in the caves with a tour though, and we didn't have time. So we just hiked on the other trails and enjoyed the scenery. There were huge cliffs and caves and birds. A perfect Sunday morning hike. Then we headed to the car and back towards the airport. Luckily we got there early because it took us forever to find a gas station and figure out how to get gas. The gas stations would say open 24 hours, but the pump didn't have a way to pay and there wasn't anyone in the shop. Then we realized that they have little machines you pay at and tell what pump you are using. We couldn't get those to work either, then my debit card got stuck in one of them. Finally some people helped us out and showed us where an atm was, so we got cash, gas and headed to the airport.

We had some rough patches on our trip, but overall it was a fun, relaxing weekend. It was nice to enjoy some time alone together before the craziness of moving sets in! In some ways I can't believe it has already been 10 years, but in other ways it feels like we have been together forever. I am so blessed to have such an amazing husband. He is perfect for me and I couldn't imagine life without him!