Nevada and California

Next stop on our list was Las Vegas, Nevada. We spent the night at Circus Circus and walked the strip in the evening. The next morning the kids were able to play in the Adventuredome. By noon or so, we were ready to hit the road.

Up next was California. We did not have a lot of time to drive too far into the state, but it was a state we needed on our map, so we decided on Death Valley National Park.

One of my favorite vacation pictures!

Not too hot considering it was June, but definitely hotter than we were used to!

Following Jim and Mary Beth to camp

Camping at Wildrose in Death Valley

Not sure what these are, but they were along the road in Death Valley.

Unfortunately, upon waking from camp in Death Valley, it was time for Jim and Mary Beth to head home. We had had such a wonderful time and it was hard to believe our road trip together was over. At the end of the road, they turned right, we turned left, and it was hard to see them go. We continued our way up California and found a campsite for the night in Markleeville. We were right on the river, so the kids had a great place to play and cool off.

Camp in Markleeville

Playing in the river

We entered back into Nevada, and since we were passing quite close to Reno, we decided to stop in to see my sister at work. We had been camping for a couple of days with no shower so we smelled of forest and campfire and sweat. Not exactly the freshest people around, but we figured a quick visit would be fine. She works in a doctors office, and apparently right after we left, one of the doctors came out of an exam room down the hall. He stopped right in front of my sister’s desk and asked, “What’s burning?” She laughed and said, “That’s just my sister!” We all got a kick out of that story…

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!

We Made It!

We were starting to think that perhaps we should take up residency in Wyoming. After we finally made it out of Gillette, we did not make it very far at all before we had to stop again, this time for blowing snow and ice. We decided that a night in Wheatland was in order, and hoped that by morning, the wind would stop and the interstate would be a little less treacherous. No such luck. As a matter of fact, the interstate became so bad that they closed it from Wheatland, down to Cheyenne.

Once the interstate was reopened, we decided to stay put until about 11am, giving the sun as much time as possible to help clear the roads. Still, the road to Cheyenne was very slow going. Eventually, though, we made it, and from there, the roads were clear through Colorado. I cannot tell you how happy we were about that! We made it down to Pueblo, CO before we stopped for the night.

We had planned on taking the highway once we hit New Mexico, but decided to stick to the interstate instead. We had had our fill of ice covered roads, and were hoping to avoid running into any more. We hit more snow just before Trinidad, CO, but it did not last for too long, and then it was smooth sailing on dry roads.

It took us a little longer than planned to make the trip down, but we made it in one piece, and that is what really counts. We arrived in New Mexico on February 5th, which also happened to be Remington P. Cat’s 18th birthday. Since then, we have enjoyed nothing but beautiful sunshine and blue skies.

I am amazed every time I look out the window because it is so incredibly beautiful. It feels so good to be here. So good to be… home.

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It’s Time!

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Another beautiful North Dakota sunrise.

We have truly enjoyed our time here in North Dakota, but come tomorrow morning, we are New Mexico bound! We have spent the last couple of weeks getting things ready to roll, and I think we are just about there. There are a few things to stow in the morning, a few things to tie down, but for the most part, we are ready to hit the road.

This month has gone by so fast and I cannot believe it is already time to leave, but everyone is super excited for the next leg of our grand adventure. We are taking it easy on the way down, and plan to arrive either Thursday evening or early Friday. The weather is looking decent, with only a chance of snow on Tuesday, so hopefully it will be smooth sailing all the way down.

For now, though, I guess it is time to get some rest, ‘cuz we’re heading to New Mexico in the morning!

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Turkey Day Vacay

This year for Thanksgiving, we took a road trip to visit family. We had originally planned on venturing to the Spokane area to visit with Rob’s family, then down to the Boise area to visit with mine, before heading home. We later decided that we could not make that happen, so our plan was to visit Spokane now, and Boise later.

Plan A was to take Waldo, but about a week before we left, we discovered an issue with his front tires. Plan B was to rent a vehicle so we did not have to worry about any car issues that may arise. Deciding we were too cheap to spend that kind of money, we resorted to Plan C: taking our own car, along with all of our critters. For those of you who have never traveled 12 hours in a car with five people, two cats, and a dog, you may be missing out on something…

Charbie and Remi LOVING Jim and Mary Beth's fireplace!

Charbie and Remi LOVING Jim and Mary Beth’s fireplace!

Most people can probably make the 12 hour drive to Spokane in a day, but we are weenies. We made it about eight hours before it got dark, at which point we stopped to shop at Hi-Country Beef Jerky, then spent the night in Lincoln, Montana. I love small town motels, they do not seem to be as strict as large hotel chains. Normally there are occupancy restrictions, but not this place. They let all of us stay in one room with a double bed. And it was cheap! Thank goodness for sleeping bags and pillows in the car top carrier! (Funny thing is the kids were free, but we had to pay $10 for the dog!)

We got started in the morning just after the sun came up. It was hunting season, the there were deer everywhere. It made us glad we did not drive that particular stretch of road in the dark. As many of you may already know, Rob and I met in Missoula, Montana, so when we arrived in town right at breakfast time, we could not resist stopping at the same pancake house we used to eat at. Then we went into my old favorite new/used bookstore. After that, we drove through our old neighborhood, marveling at all the changes. The entire neighborhood was unrecognizable, all except for Rob’s old house, which was exactly the same, and Thermal Supply, where he used to work when I me him. A lot has changed there in the last 15 years…

Jim and Mary Beth's fantastic feast!

Jim and Mary Beth’s fantastic feast!

Needless to say, we arrived in Spokane later than we had planned, but arrive we did. Rob’s sister, Mary Beth, and her hubby, Jim, were nice enough to let us stay with them. Their quiet and peaceful house was anything but for the few days that we were there. We had such a wonderful visit with them, though, and it is always so nice being there.

My parents and beautiful sister came to see us!

My parents and beautiful sister came to see us!

Our time in Spokane was filled with family visits, dinners, a little shopping, and a whole lot of talking, laughing, and catching up. Mary Beth and Jim cooked the most amazing Thanksgiving dinner while we were there! Rob knew I was a little bummed about not being able to make it down to Boise, so he secretly arranged with my parents and sister to come up to Spokane for a day! (Thank you, Honey!!!) So we had members from both families in one place for Thanksgiving dinner, which was absolutely amazing!!

Eventually, though, it was time to leave Spokane and head for North Idaho. We were on our way to Bonners Ferry, where Liam was born many moons ago. Rob’s brother, Rich, lives there, and he invited us to stay with him for a couple of days. Their brother, Jeff, and his girlfriend were there, and we enjoyed another amazing turkey feast! The brothers had not seen each other in a few years, so they spent the night visiting and catching up.

Brothers!

Brothers!

And last but not least, we headed into Montana to visit with Rob’s brother, Chad, and his family. Unfortunately we only had about a day to spend with them, but we had a really good time. The kids had a blast playing with their cousins, Alex and Nick. Liam had fun riding the snow mobile while the twins enjoyed riding horses. Rob and Chad had not seen each other in a few years, either, so it was nice for them to have the time to catch up.

Rob, Nathan, and Chad visiting the horses.

Rob, Nathan, and Chad visiting the horses.

As is usually the case when on vacation, the week went by way too fast. Before we knew it, it was time to head home. We were able to visit with Rob’s aunt and uncle on our way out, but we were pretty much out of time. We left on Saturday, thinking we would make the 12 hour trip in one day this time. We got a late start, though, and only made it to Butte, Montana before it was dark and we were tired, resulting in hotel room #2. (This one had two beds!) We woke up Sunday morning with 522 miles to go until we were home. About eight hours later, we pulled up to Waldo, thankful to have made it home in one piece.

We quickly learned that Waldo had been busy while we were away, but I will share that story with you tomorrow…

For now, I want to sent out a huge THANK YOU to all of our family. You took in not only the five of us, but our fur-babes as well, and we cannot THANK YOU enough. For taking time out of your schedules to spend time with us, THANK YOU! For driving eight hours just to see us for a few hours, THANK YOU! For making us feel so welcome in your warm homes, THANK YOU! For the laughs and the love, THANK YOU! You are all so amazing, and we love each and every one of you dearly.