Off to Oklahoma!

Rob and I usually only have one day off together each week, but with the 4th of July and Rob taking Monday off, we ended up with three! We had debated staying home since we just got back from a big trip not too long ago, but knowing this would be the longest weekend we would have together for the rest of the summer, we decided to make the most of it. So, after some deliberation, we decided on Oklahoma.

Hello Oklahoma!

I had read about Autograph Rock in Boise City, OK, as well as some dinosaur tracks preserved in sandstone just up the road in Kenton. Black Mesa State Park is also in the area, as is the highest peak in Oklahoma. If you go just a bit further, you run into a fun tri-state marker. All of these things are only about five hours away, so the panhandle of Oklahoma was our destination.

We arrived at Black Mesa State Park at about 3pm. After setting up camp, we decided to go find the dinosaur tracks. There are no markers or street signs for the tracks, so you definitely have to have an idea of where to go. Before we left home, I wrote down every hint I could find as to their location. We found the creek bed, but went the wrong direction at first. We found the tracks just down the hill from the car. Apparently when the tracks were discovered back in the 80s, there were 47 footprints. You can only see about a third of them today. What an amazing find, though.

When we left the footprints, we continued down the road towards the tri-state marker. We were on a little country road that turned to dirt, and we did not see another car the entire time we were out there. We arrived at the state line marker for Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Colorado out in the middle of farm and ranch country. It was absolutely beautiful.

We had contemplated hiking up the Summit Trail, but it was getting too late to start the 4-hour hike, so we went back to camp for the night. There was a thunderstorm heading towards us, so we ended up hanging out in the car for a little bit while all the thunder and lightening passed.  Once it passed, the sky was amazing.

After the storm

Upon waking in the morning, we noticed that we had a flat tire. This kind of altered our plans just a little bit, but we found ourselves being extremely grateful that it was Monday and not Sunday, or the Tuesday holiday, when most repair shops would be closed. After dropping off the tire, we went to a little cafe for breakfast. Great food at a great price. Of course we were the only non-farmer/ranchers in the place, but that was fine with us. After we picked up our tire, which they only charged us $10 to fix, we were on our way again.

Our next stop was the Cimarron Heritage Center. Unfortunately they were closed. I was a little bummed because Autograph Rock is on private property and requires permission from the Heritage Center. I had the number for the manager, so Rob decided to give her a call. She was extremely sweet and even offered to have someone come open up the center so we could see the museum! We declined that offer so that everyone could enjoy their day off, but she did give us verbal permission as well as directions to Autograph Rock.

“Cimmy” at the Cimarron Heritage Center

Autograph Rock was incredible. It was a common stopping point for travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. There was year-round water, so it became a well-known campsite. Over the years, people carved their names in the sandstone bluffs. The oldest known name is from 1806, but we did not find that one. F.B.Delgado is the most popular, as he was the owner of a mule and ox train that used the trail, and he carved his name several times. We were the only ones out at Autograph Rock, so we were able to take our time and enjoy the history of the area.

On Tuesday morning, we broke camp and headed for home. We stopped at Fort Union National Monument on the way back. Another quiet spot with only a few visitors. We walked around the fort for a while, then loaded back up to finish our drive home. We arrived home in time to unload our little trailer, take showers, and head back into town for the 4th of July fireworks. We were all very tired when we got back home at almost 11pm, and it felt good to sleep in out own beds.

Before we left home last Sunday, we had worried that perhaps we would not be able to get a camp site, or that things would be crowded since it was the 4th of July weekend. Our worries were quickly put to rest, though. The campground at the state park in OK was almost empty each night. There was no traffic at all. There were no people at the places we visited. Even the playground we stopped at for the kids was quiet. I guess the panhandle of Oklahoma is not a tourist hot-spot for long weekends. For us, though, it was wonderful. A quiet get-away was just what we were looking for. Not to mention we were able to add Oklahoma to our state map.

I am still organizing pictures, so I will share those over the next couple of days. For now, here are a few random pictures I came across this morning…

Catheryn took this picture of Charbie at camp.

The kids really liked the glass coke bottles…

Nathan with his “You’re seriously taking my picture again?” face on.

Liam loves to photo bomb.

Arizona

For the last several months, we had been planning a road trip vacation with Rob’s sister, Mary Beth, and her hubby, Jim. They wanted to see the southwest, and, in our attempt to get our kids to as many states as possible before they graduate, we needed to make a stop in four states. As it turned out, our goals lined up almost perfectly! Not to mention it was a great way to get to spend some time together. The first stop on our grand adventure was Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. None of us had ever been there before, so it was a great first stop. What an amazing park!

Petrified Forest National Park

The sun was perfect for a group shadow photo on the bridge!

Liam jumps pretty much everything he can find…

Jackrabbit!

After exploring Petrified Forest, we drove a little until we came to an Arizona state park where we set up camp for the night. The next morning found us on our way to Grand Canyon National Park. I wish I had words to describe its grandeur, and I wish my pictures did it justice, but neither is the case. Might I just say that if you ever have the opportunity to see it for yourself, do it. It is an experience you will not soon forget.

My pictures do not come close, you have to see it for yourself…

Ahhhhh…

Us girls left the boys at camp and went back for the sunset.

Desert View Watchtower

Inside the watchtower

Camp!

Nathan and CowCow snoozing in the hammock.

Three nights spent in Arizona, two national parks visited, and we were able to add Arizona to the states the kids have been to. (Our requirements to claim a state are that we have to see or do something special, and we have to spend at least one night.) Seeing the Grand Canyon was a bucket list item for several, and I am so glad we were all able to experience it together. Our time in Arizona had come to an end, and it was time to hit the road. Next stop: Las Vegas, Nevada.

Best. Vacation. Ever!

Earlier this week we returned home from what had to have been one of the best vacations ever. I have way too many pictures for one post, so I will share by state, but first, here is an overview of our GRAND adventure.

It all started when Rob’s sister, Mary Beth, and her hubby, Jim, came down for a visit. After a few days exploring the area around here, we all headed out together to Arizona.

Our first stop was Petrified Forest National Park. From there, we spent two days at the Grand Canyon.

In our quest to finish off the western states for the kids, a stop in Nevada was a must, so we hit the big city of Las Vegas.

From there it was off to California where we camped in Death Valley National Park.

WELCOME TO CALIFORNIA!! (We did not see a sign on the highway we were on…)

Unfortunately, this is where Jim and Mary Beth had to head on their way home, so we were on our own. We drove up through California, went back into Nevada, and continued on our way to Idaho.

There we had an amazing visit with my parents and my sister and her family. We celebrated my dad’s upcoming 70th birthday while we were there. The time went by way too fast, and before we knew it, it was time to head for home.

After leaving Idaho, we made it to Moab, Utah, where we spent the night. In the morning, we spent some time in Arches National Park before driving the final eight hours home.

 

It is hard to believe that after so much planning and anticipation, our vacation is over already. But, as with all good things, I suppose it had to end eventually. We brought home a lot of amazing memories from this trip, though, and it will never be forgotten! Time to start planning for the next one!!

Stay tuned for more pictures and stories from each state!

Hello Summer Vacation!

Our kids have now all officially completed their elementary school careers. After a nice ceremony Friday, our twins are now middle schoolers. 7th grade, here they come. Another chapter on their childhoods has come to an end, and it went by so incredibly fast…

Friday also marked the completion of Liam’s first year of middle school. He enjoyed it so much, and coupled with all the sports he participated in, it was a great year for him. On to 8th grade for him already. Can high school really only be a year away?

I am so proud of all three of my kids. They were sweet little kids, and they are turning into great young adults. It is hard to watch the years race by so fast, but I look forward to seeing all the future holds for them.

For now, though… Hello SUMMER!!!!!!

Mother’s Day Hike

According to Nathan, ‘normal’ moms want to go to a movie on Mother’s Day, not hike 13.5 miles, climbing into and out of a 500-foot canyon twice. Who wants to sit in a theater when I can be out on the trail with these crazies? Besides, ‘normal’ is not a word that has been used in our house in a looooong time.

Hope all the moms out there had a wonderful day!!

Ready to head out

Just keep walking…

500 foot Alamo Canyon. We went down and up, twice.

Yup, we’re going down there!

Beautiful Alamo Canyon

Company on the trail

Potsherds out at Yapashi Pueblo

With 350 rooms, 6 kivas, and a reservoir, Yapashi was the largest settlement in Bandelier.

Stone Lions

Flowers were blooming everywhere!

At the Track

We went to a middle school track meet yesterday afternoon. I am not sure what all those boys ate for breakfast, but they were all so fast! I was so impressed watching them all run. Liam had a great day as well. He tied for 1st in the high jump at 5′, placed 3rd in the 400m open, and his 4x40m relay team took 1st! We are looking forward to the next meet this Saturday!