The Best Dam Trip We’ve Ever Taken


hoover dam

Hoover Dam, the 2nd tallest dam in America, but probably the best known.  (The tallest one, in case that made you as curious as it made me, is the Oroville Dam in Oroville, California, east of Sacramento.)

This trip was all for Alan. I was all, “Why waste our time in southern Nevada and California? It’s out of the way, and I have zero interest in seeing Vegas. Casinos and showgirls? Sorry. Not our scene.”

Alan was all, “What!!  The Hoover Dam is an engineering marvel!! ” And then he said a whole bunch of stuff about the dam–I had no idea what he was talking about, really. Engineering: also not my scene. Alan talks about civil engineering frequently, actually, and that’s why it took us so long to go from friends to more than friends. 😉 ha! Love you, Alan!

I do occasionally TRY to be a good wife, though. (Hey, give me a little credit: I did bear him several children, in spite of my repeated nightmare deliveries.)

And like a good wife, I can admit when I’m wrong.

I was wrong.

The dam was not blah blah blah. We even went on the TOUR of the POWER PLANT of the dam, and I just knew that I would fall asleep. There was really no way out of it. I totally had Alan talked out of doing it, but then the lady at the ticket booth talked us into it with our big $2 discount, simply because Alan is military.  (But just to clarify, there’s really nothing that ‘simple’ about being in the military. If you want our discount, you would have to do things like live in the Iraqi desert for a year at a time. It’s 130 degrees there, ya’ll. Do you still want the $2 discounts?)  Ha!! Me neither! I won’t even stay outside if it goes over 100 degrees! When I was a high schooler, getting calls from military recruiters, I simply laughed, explained to them that I was too prissy for the Navy/Army/whatever, and hung up the phone. 😉

Before I knew it, I was in the dam tour line, patiently waiting to learn all about the dam power plant. 😉

April, the reluctant tourist

April, the reluctant tourist

First came the movie. No problem. I love movies. Yes, there was a lot of blah blah blah, but ALSO it was fascinating!!  And they had actual footage of the dam being built, which made it so much easier to understand. I learned a ton!

Alan was so excited, when halfway through the film, I said a completely serious, “Wow!”

That really made his day!

After the movie, they took us through the power plant of the dam. It really wasn’t so bad. Thankfully, it didn’t last too long, and it all made Alan so happy.



The Hoover Dam provides power for parts of Arizona, Nevada, and California. Plus it provides those states with water.

Do you know what it is that makes the Hoover Dam amazing??  Before we went, I thought it would be what it looked like. I thought, “Oh, people think it’s amazing because it’s gigantic.” No, that’s not it. It’s amazing because of what it accomplishes.

Here is what I learned:

-Before the Hoover Dam, the Colorado River caused a lot of trouble for everyone in its path. It caused flooding, and it was just a treacherous river.

-The Dam pretty much tamed the monstrous Colorado River.

-It controlled the flow of the water, and prevents flooding.

-The dam brings water to California, Nevada, and Arizona, and after driving through these states, let me tell you: they need water super badly!!

-The dam brings electricity to those states too.

-This makes those states habitable, really. Have you seen the Southwest? A whole lot of what we saw in those states was beautiful, but it was also dry, and some of it is comparable to the vast, dry mountains of Afghanistan.

-It’s a clean energy source. Isn’t that nice! No smog or nuclear fallout coming from the Hoover Dam.

how-it-works diagram. I sort of understood some of this, and I am okay with that. If you'd like to know more, just ask Alan.

how-it-works diagram. I sort of understood some of this, and I am okay with that. If you’d like to know more, just ask Alan.

hydro-electric pumps--or something like that

hydro-electric pumps–or something like that

Also, you do not want to touch that coppery railing--totally burned my arm!

Also, you do NOT want to touch that coppery railing–totally burned my arm!

-It’s also a marvel that all of those states and Congress could work together and get the Dam to come together. Imagine today’s Congress accomplishing that. They did an amazing job, and that’s why they later named it after Hoover, who worked so hard to orchestrate this ‘engineering marvel’.

-Oh, and by the way, even the parking deck outside the thing looks like a feat in itself.

-Lake Mead is a BEAUTIFUL blue.





This cute young couple had their picture made standing on the Nevada/Arizona border

-The area is experiencing a 13 year drought. They said the problem is that Colorado hasn’t had enough snow to melt into the river. I am going to pray for these people and their drought. The water in the river is insanely low right now. Won’t you join me in praying for rain for these folks?


We drove into Nevada on that bridge. It had barriers up, so you can’t see the dam if you’re driving. If I had known how high up this bridge was, i would have been a little bit chicken!

-Apparently, I’ve been pronouncing Nevada all wrong. The second syllable is pronounced “a” as in “apple” not “o” as in “ostrich”…according to our tour guide.

-While we were at the dam, that’s when I saw a sudden …fashion shift. Suddenly, there were more young people, and they didn’t seem to think that covering up was something to bother with. I get it. It’s the desert, and it was over 100 degrees. We have that problem in the south too, and we do wear as little clothing as we can, while still looking decent. These girls just didn’t bother with the whole ‘looking decent’ part.

Also a good rule of thumb, my sweet, young friends: If your shorts are so short, that you cannot wear regular underwear, because they are longer than your shorts, then save those shorts for your house. They are not for public wear. It’s getting hard to tell the hookers from the not-hookers, just sayin’.

-Okay, one last thought on the Hoover Dam, totally unrelated to fashion choices:  I love, love, love how man is able to cultivate the earth to make it work better for all of us. God made man–and when I say man–I do mean mankind (both men and women)–in his image. We are intelligent and can do wonderful things.

Nature left to itself tends toward disorder, out of control rivers, no electricity, and no pretty little tidy gardens. That is why the idea that man just spontaneously formed, without a creator is ludicrous. Have you ever seen a garden left untended? The weeds and grasses quickly choke out the beauty that was there. Creation itself testifies to the creator, and it is our job to take care of that creation.





Jellystone Gloucester/Yorktown/Jamestowne in Pictures

Alan’s parents came last week and helped us with the first two days of school.  I always get used to having extra hands around and then get bug-eyed when they leave and I realize again just how much work I have to do here.  We all enjoyed their visit, and they were so kind as to take some family photos for us.

And then we took some of the boys and their grandparents:

We told them to all look “super happy.”  : )



 We told them to all look super serious…which seemed to mean different things to different people.
 Taking family photos involving four little boys is no easy task.

Jellystone Gloucester/Yorktown/Jamestowne in Pictures

Jellystone Time!

So Nonna and DaddyO left on Wednesday, and Friday we planned to head out for our biggest family vacation yet:  Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Jellystone Park.  The boys were so excited.  Alan and I were so exhausted, but somehow we pulled it off –sort of….

We called it our Williamsburg trip, and we totally thought we’d get to see Melody while we were there, but we knew we couldn’t commit, our tribe being what it is…  And we were right, we never even made it to Williamsburg.

We were staying at Jellystone Park, and the boys loved it so incredibly much that we had a really hard time pulling them away long enough to do anything else.  All we managed was a glimpse at Yorktown Saturday night for dinner.  Then we pulled out early Sunday and squeezed in Jamestown.  Maybe Williamsburg next year???

Something very new happened on this vaca though.  First, of all, yes, it was an insane amount of work and a lot of “tag teaming”.  I spent a lot of the time with JD, while Alan spent a lot of it with the three oldest.

I asked Alan which he thought was more difficult, and we agreed, that one baby is still probably harder than three little boys.  With the baby, we just felt a little more stuck at the cabin, and crying babies can be unnerving at times.

I didn’t mind being stuck at the cabin.  I finally got a little more sleep!  OH!  And JD decided to give me two bonus nights of returning to sleeping through the night.  It was like a Christmas miracle!!!

Oh!  The something new that happened!

Everywhere we went we attracted a lot of attention.  I mean once you get pregnant, you are accepting your role as public spectacle for quite a few years.  People love to watch babies, toddlers, preschoolers, even big boys can be hilarious, so we’ve always attracted a little attention…not all of it positive probably…but THIS year we got……compliments!

It was so exciting.  I know this may be the norm for some of you, but to take four little boys out in public and get lots of compliments, well, it was rather exciting for us.

We also heard a lot of, “Well, is that one…*glance at baby*…  Oh…..yes, he’s a boy too.”  *chuckles*

Saturday night we chose a swanky looking, white tablecloth kind of place, a seafood restaurant, on the water, in Yorktown.  Alan and I looked at each other like, “Are we completely crazy to try this???”  Joshua and Caleb, believe it or not, were….dare I say it…perfect little gentlemen.

Joshua said, “Ooo, I like these cool glasses.”  (stemware)

Caleb said, “Can we clink our glasses together?”  They wanted to do “cheers” over and over again, but don’t worry, we only let them do it two or three times.

Dan was great too, until right at the end, when he started trying to wander….

JD was super fab until…..the food came, of course!

Alan and I were on our game and remained calm though.

 Alan handled Dan’s bathroom break, and we took turns eating and holding the baby.

Alan said, “You know you could just feed him right here.  You have your blanket, and you don’t know these people.”

The thing was we were, thankfully, in a corner of the outside patio, but the three tables beside us had no children.  There was one very chatty middle-aged couple, clearly on a date.  There was one retired couple, and then behind us was a whole family of folks, but all older people.

For a while, I had no idea what they thought of this big family of little boys invading their quiet dinner night out on the water.  We were behaving, but let’s face it, we were still kind of different.

I told Alan, as I stood there rocking JD back and forth, “Nah, I know I could just feed him here, but I feel as though I’ve made enough spectacle of myself without adding that.”

As we got ready to leave, one by one, someone from every single one of those tables made it a point to tell us how good our children were and marvel at the size of our two month old (gigantic, but cute).

Isn’t it wonderful when people are nice?

This was a very good weekend for us.  I finally got a little more sleep.  We all spent lots of time together, and we absolutely loved seeing Jamestown.  Alan and I share an interest in American history, so I guess for us this was like a theme park is for some people–really fun!

Jellystone Photos:

JD now finds fist-sucking to be a rewarding daily activity.


Jellystone Gloucester/Yorktown/Jamestowne in Pictures
Welcome to Jellystone Campgrounds!


 We love the jumping pillow!  It was a little too difficult for Dan, maybe next year.


I call this activity “turtle necking.”




Jellystone Gloucester/Yorktown/Jamestowne in Pictures
Our boys LOVE Yogi and Boo-Boo, but “not Cindy, b/c she’s a girl.”  Boo-Boo is their favorite.
Dan loved all the bears, and he talked about the bears constantly all weekend.  He even owns a stuffed Yogi, and he had me carry him to Yogi so that he could show Yogi his Yogi bear.  Yogi was impressed.
When Dan says bear it comes out as “beer,” so all weekend he said, “Beer.  Beer.  I want beer!”




JD did a lot of this.

Our cabin:



We let Dan sleep with us, and it was still the most restful night I’d had in about 8 days.
Don’t worry.  It did not have a motor.


I love our bassinet:  one of the best purchases we made for this baby.  It takes up so much less space than a pack and play.

Jellystone Gloucester activity room:

Ice cream time!
Dan arranged the chess pieces in a nice row.


Caleb set up an actual chess board, but I didn’t get a picture.  I thought this was cute, though.

Jamestown Photos:


For Jamestown, I just handed Caleb the camera, and he took all the pics for the day.  Sure, I had to sort through a few pictures of feet and dirt.  It turns out that Caleb is a very creative little photographer.  All of these that follow, unless they are of Caleb, were taken by Caleb.
I had to coach him on always photographing faces, so then he took this one below, but I would like to proudly proclaim, thanks to this picture (I love you, Caleb) that I finally no longer look pregnant.  WHoo-hoo!


Joshua didn’t seem to enjoy Jamestown as much as we did.  He hates having the sun in his eyes, but he won’t keep up with his sunglasses anymore.  He was overjoyed when Alan bought himself a hat at the souvenir shop.  Alan has yet to get to wear that hat, as Joshua seemed to think it was meant for him.
unearthed portion of original Jamestown bricks
The boys seemed really impressed with this church, part of the Jamestown Fort, rebuilt several times, most recently in 1906.


Caleb chased this goose, photographing it several times.  The goose finally made a dash for the water.


model of the fort
Jamestown residents had to live in the fort a lot of the time due to constant Indian attacks.  I bought a book written by the archaeologist who studied Jamestown, and it is fascinating.


Joshua, wearing Alan’s new hat, is always helping us to shepherd little Dan.


Jellystone Gloucester/Yorktown/Jamestowne in Pictures



Jamestown is actually an island now.  You have to cross this foot bridge to view it.
Now if I ever get any time, I’d love to research more to see if I had any ancestors around Jamestown!  But let’s face it, I’m barely keeping my head above ground here, so that is highly unlikely!



Fun Things to do in Fairfax County: Frying Pan Farm Park

frying pan farm park

Frying Pan Farm Park


Today Alan took the day off work, and we all visited a local Farm Park.  Everyone had a good time, in spite of the ever-present chill.  They had farm animals, a blacksmith shop, a wagon ride, a carousel, and a playground.
We felt like Caleb was really channeling his DaddyO in this fleece vest.
The Blacksmith Shop:  This is the very first time that all three boys actually listened to the demonstration given by the volunteer blacksmith.  We are crossing into new parenting territory with these oldest two growing up so fast!
   I think one of these two pictures of the brothers on the fence should definitely be framed!
27 weeks!
Joshua took a bunch of these pictures of Caleb while we were waiting on the wagon ride to start.  I think he did a really good job.
Dan’s first carousel ride
Daddy, being silly

Dan squeezed in a little playtime with his new Little People Zoo from Grandaddy and Nana.  He likes it a lot.  Thank you!  Joshua even helped me put it together!


…..and those were the highlights of our Spring Break.  Not too shabby, I thought.  I do hope April will bring us more warmth.  As you can see, my jacket is getting to be a bit small for me…….
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