It was a very frustrating day waiting for Sam to return. He was supposed to fly in around 7pm and we were going to take off for our family trip up north right after that. Yet, Sam kept calling with more delays and his flight ended up coming in around 10:45 that night. And, for some reason the Army had the families waiting at some random air field near LAX out in the cold (okay, so it wasn't really that cold, but temps in the 50's can get a bit brisk when I'm standing outside for an hour and a half).
Here's a picture of Nathaniel waiting for Daddy to arrive (I took Nathaniel with me to get Sam and left Aaron at home so he could sleep--a friend of mine came over to sit with him).
We were super excited when the bus FINALLY showed up with the soldiers. Sam was the first one off of the bus! Nathaniel did not hesitate to give Sam a huge hug. I caught a picture of that too.
After waiting for about an hour and a half for the luggage to show up (yes, more adventures in stupid), we finally got loaded up in the van and headed home. We got a few hours of sleep and were up and traveling by 7am (just in time to hit traffic on the way out of the city).
We drove up to Calistoga in Napa Valley and stayed in a cute little cottage. Somehow I managed to not get any pictures of where we stayed, but trust me, it was beautiful. When we checked into our place (a one bedroom cottage with a living room and a kitchen) I realized that we were going to be super stressed if we tried to fit everything into one day, so we decided to extend our stay by a day. It was a good choice.
On the first day we rented bikes and biked around Calistoga with the kids. We did a good balance of visiting vineyards and seeing other cute little touristy sites. The picture below is of Nathaniel in front of the tasting room at a little place called Lava Vine (so named for the volcanic ash that covers the region due to a volcano erupting some millions of years ago).
It was fun riding the bikes with the kids. Sam and I took turns pulling the 60 pounds of children behind us. It was a beautiful fall day and the scenery was breathtaking.
The town of Calistoga is located above some natural hot mineral springs (it's kind of the big advertisement of the town) and located right outside of town is California's "Old Faithful" Geyser. It goes off about every 20 minutes. It was pretty cool seeing the geyser erupt and to look at the nature around it. It seemed pretty prehistoric. If you look behind us in this picture you can see the geyser erupting.
The next day we went to the Petrified Forest and hiked around. Here is a picture of the boys in front of a petrified tree (it looks like just a fallen stump, but it's actually a tree turned into stone! Pretty cool).