The last several days after Christmas, we took a short break and visited Kevin’s family in North Carolina. Katelynn and Sara hadn’t been in Georgia and South Carolina, yet. So, we chose to drive the southern route through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina to get North Carolina. Since it was raining most of the time, we took it easy with the “End of the Year” trip. I captured several photos. But I wasn’t going all out as I usually do, when we go on bigger trips. Here are my favorite ones:
Five years ago, Kevin, the girls and I drove to Oklahoma on Labor Day. We picked a spot at the most northern part of Lake Texoma, which is southeast of the town Tishomingo. Parking at the northern side of the lake, we took a little hike. It was humid, warm, and a lot of insects were buzzing all over the place. All of a sudden, a Gulf Fritillary sat down on Katelynn’s arm. Katelynn kept hiking with it for a bit, before the butterfly decided to fly to another flower. Kevin said: “I think I see a hummingbird right there.” But when I looked closer, I smiled and replied: “That’s close. Actually, it’s a hummingbird moth, also called a sphinx moth.” The girls kept watching it. And one said: “It really acts like a hummingbird.”
It was a nice afternoon in Oklahoma. We drove back home to have dinner in Texas. We all got out as a family and did something together on this September holiday. Sometimes, this is all it takes to make the girls happy.
June 20, 2018
Our five-day vacation came officially to an end. After breakfast in the Motel, we left Cortez to drive home. We made our way from Durango in Colorado back to New Mexico. In Santa Fe we took a break and had lunch. Once we crossed the New Mexico/Texas Border, I was happy to be on Texas grounds again. It took us until 11 P.M. to get to our house. We had a fun trip. But it’s nice to be home in Texas, again. As always, it was lots of driving, my buttox hurt and my feet started to swell. But I can’t wait for our next adventure.
~ The End ~
June 19, 2018
If Arches National Park is the famous park of Utah could be argued. But back in the day living in Germany, when someone mentioned Utah, the first picture coming into my head was the Delicate Arch. Therefore, the park was the one that stuck in my head. I didn’t know that Utah had many more National Parks, State Parks, Monuments, etc., until I moved to the United States. Since years, seeing the Delicate Arch was on my bucket list. On this trip, I’ve finally got to see it. We looked at it from the Lower Viewpoint, and we hiked all the way up the hill to the Upper Viewpoint. I scratched the Delicate Arch very lightly out on my list. Because I still want to hike all the way up to it and touch it.
But the Arches National Park has more to offer than just the Delicate Arch itself. There are many view points of interesting stone formation. Sometimes I think, these places are Mother Natures playgrounds. If she doesn’t want to play in this “sandbox”, she’ll play in another.
We didn’t make all the way back to the “Devils Garden”. There were just too many places to see along the road. And I’m not gonna post all the photos I’ve captured. Here are the 36 best photos I’ve shot in Arches National Park:
When we left Arches National Park, we drove to Cortez in Colorado, to rest for the night there.
… to be continued …
June 19, 2018
While Kevin and I were resting on the front porch on Monday afternoon, I was looking on my Rand McNally map. Kevin said, going to all five parks would get quite expensive when we stay in each park only for a couple hours. After some thinking and debating, we came to the decision, we would go to Arches National Park on our way home. Seeing the Delicate Arch is on my bucket list for quite some time. It would be a nice highlight for the end of our trip and before we leave Utah.
Tuesday morning, we packed our gear and put it in the car before we had breakfast and checking out at the Zion Ponderosa Ranch. We drove through Zion National Park for the third time in a couple of days, so we could reach Interstate 15. From there we would drive all the way up to get to Interstate 70. Along these two Interstates we’ve stopped several times to see Utah’s beautiful landscape along the way. We took a last stop to eat lunch at the rest area, right before exit to Highway 191, which leads to the entrance of Arches National Park.
… to be continued …
June 18, 2018
Prior to find our resort on Sunday, we went through a small town named Kanab. There was a sign stating, that there is a German bakery in Orderville, which is right around the corner from the resort. Coming into Orderville, we had to get to the other end of the town and a couple of miles further to arrive at the Bäckerei Forscher. When I looked at the yummy food at the display counter, my mouth became watery. Oh my, it looked so good. Katelynn, Sara and Kevin ate Salami-Arugula Sandwiches with a side of potato salad and a pickle. I had a Black Forest Ham-Gouda Sandwich with a side of potato salad and a pickle, and as desert I had Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake). I loved it so much, biting into a real crunchy bread roll again. Well, I definitely can’t deny my German roots, when it comes to food. 😀 While we were waiting for our order, Kevin purchased a German Rye Bread for me. We ate that on our way back home to Texas. The food is pricey, because the sausages, hams, cheeses … etc. are imported from Germany. But it was so worth it. The only thing that could have been better was the Bienenstich. It was a bit on the dry end. I’m not sure, if they import the cakes or bake them on side. If it is a couple of days old, the freshness is unfortunately not there anymore.
For Monday afternoon, we decided we relax at the resort. Katelynn and Sara wanted to go to the pool. And Kevin wanted to recover from the long ride. So, Kevin and I just hung out on the porch. In the late afternoon, the girls came back to rest from the pool. Right in time for eating dinner at the resort. When we came back to the cabin, Katelynn and Sara were ready to go back to the pool. In the meantime, Kevin and I watched some Mountain Bluebirds, a few American Robins and a Black-billed Magpie roaming our campgrounds. There are always some berries and human foods laying around on the ground. It was dinner time for them as well.
Because we wanted to start early on Tuesday morning, we went to bed early on Monday evening. Unfortunately short before midnight, I had another episode with my Anemia. My pulse was racing and I felt nauseaous. I woke up Kevin, and we sat on the porch for a while. I took my medication, which takes the edge away of feeling nauseaous. When I felt comfortable enough, I told Kevin it was okay for him to lay back down. Poor guy, every so often I have to wake him up in the middle of the night for the last four weeks. But I’m in good doctor’s care, eat healthier and take my meds. So, I hope it will resolve soon. Anyway … while I got some fresh air on the porch, Kevin grabbed the camera for me. I looked at the Milky Way. And it looked so stunning, I had to photograph it for the second night in the row. Since it was later in the evening, the Milky Way was much higher in the sky. And it was bright. Something, what I don’t see in the light polluted DFW Metroplex. After focusing on the neighbor’s fire in the firepit for little bit longer, my mind relaxed and I was able to go back to bed, again.
… to be continued …
June 18, 2018
Zion National Park is only a stone’s throw away from the Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort. Coming down from Twin Knoll Road and making a right turn on Highway 9, we could see the East Entrance of the park already. Once we entered Zion National Park, we all were in awe. I said to Kevin: “Bryce Canyon N.P. and Arches N.P. might be the famous Utah parks. But Zion N.P. is a hidden gem.” I wish, we would have taken the shuttle bus, since it is free of charge. But we didn’t know that. And of course, we didn’t go to the Visitor Center to ask, if there was a fee to ride on the bus. Now, it’s one of many excuses to come back again. 😉
… to be continued …
June 17, 2018
When we left Page in Arizona, we still had two to two and a half hours, before we arrived at the resort east of Zion National Park. Southern Utah has the same landscape as Northern Arizona.
Kevin, the girls and I finally made it to our destination, the Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort, in the early evening. After we checked in, we went to our cabin to get our luggage in and have a sandwich for dinner. Sara wanted to go for a swim, so we’ve got her ready and walked down to the pool. While Kevin kept an eye on her, Katelynn and I walked around to check out the area. They have quite a bit of activities for children and teens at the resort. There’s ping-pong, wall climbing, mini golf, a pool … just to name a hand full of activities.
When Katelynn and I came back, Kevin went with Katelynn to the Recreation Center on the property. Katelynn went sip lining, and Kevin informed himself what we could do with the rest of the evening at the resort. He found out, that Zion Ponderosa has a Sunset Jeep Ride, which takes the guests up to a mountain. The area is hard to reach with a regular car. The best way to get up there is in a Jeep or with an ATV. I was definitely in for that. At 8 PM local time, we went with three Jeeps up to this mountain. On top of it, our guide/driver explained to us how this mountain range formed and that the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument doesn’t end in so-called park. It reaches all the way from Salt Lake City to the northern rim of the Grand Canyon. Standing on that mountain, it can be seen perfectly as a staircase. It was very beautiful up there. We watched the sunset, while standing on the roof of Zion National Park. The guide showed us, where the Narrows begin in that valley in front of us. Looking on the other side of the hill, we could see our resort. Shortly after the sunset, we made our way back to Zion Ponderosa. Getting up was the easy part, getting down was a little more adventurous. The trail is much narrower. Sometimes we’ve got a little smack across the face from nature. 😀
Coming back, we walked to our cabin. Katelynn and Sara tumbled on top of the bunk bed, while Kevin and I enjoyed the view on the cabin’s porch. I’ve got my camera set up to capture several photos of the Milky Way. That Sunday night, I was too tired to get a perfect shot. But it was fun seeing so many stars in the sky.
… to be continued …
June 17, 2018
After a good night rest, Kevin, Katelynn, Sara and I had a nice breakfast at the Motel on Father’s Day. The sky didn’t look promising, outside. I was worried, it would rain when we arrive at the Four Corners. We still had a few sprinkles. But when we arrived at the corner of all four states, it was surprisingly nice. The sun came out and the ground dried up for Sara putting her hands and feet in each state. Since we arrived early, it wasn’t so busy at the Four Corner Monument. A bus full of British tourists, and a few couples and families were there. I guess, the early hours are the best to go and see it. If you decide to go there, be prepared for a steep entry price. We paid $30 for the vehicle to enter. Since we were four, it was $7.50 per person. And we stayed maybe for about 30 minutes. Looking at it that way, it’s still a decent price.
Kevin and I decided to take Highway 160 and Highway 98 to get to Page, Arizona. This seemed to be the most efficient way to get to Zion National Park. While Kevin looked at the route, I looked at the map and said: “I have an idea. Since the Horseshoe Bend is only a couple of miles outside from Page, I really would like to see it this time.” In 2008, we were rafting in the Horseshoe Bend. And when we came back to Page, it was getting too dark to walk all the way down the trail and see it from above. Now ten years later, I really wanted to see it. When we arrived there, it was a long way to get to the bend. There were long stretches walking through red sand and down hill. But the hardest part was hiking back up. It was in the afternoon, and the sun was beating down. But I was determined. And therefore, I’ve finally got to see it and can scratch it off my bucket list.
Before we entered Utah, we made a stop at the local Walmart to refill on food and water. At the Glen Canyon Dam, I asked Kevin to let me out so I could see the dam better. Kevin drove across the bridge, while I crossed it by foot. Katelynn came halfway on the bridge, because she wanted to see the dam. I asked her, if she can remember the Glen Canyon Dam from riding on the raft boat in the canyon. She said, she has only a vague memory of it, because she was only four. “… But I remember, you showing me pictures of it, Mom!” Across the bridge, we went into the Carl Hayden Visitor Center. Katelynn was hoping to see more dinosaurs. But she was happy with the foot prints outside the entrance of the center. Once cooled off and refreshed, we all were ready to get to Utah.
… to be continued …
June 16, 2018
Man, I was in a crappy mood when we packed the car and left for Utah on Saturday morning. I slept only four hours the night prior. And I didn’t feel good. But this was not stopping us from going on vacation. I took a two-hour nap in the car, while Kevin was driving towards Amarillo. Several miles after Wichita Falls, I woke up and felt refreshed. I’ve noticed, Sara was taking a nap as well. It’s not usual for her. But she must have been pooped as well. At the Quanah County Safety Rest Area, we took a break to have lunch. Walking along the pond was a nice break from sitting in the car, before we were moving on.
In Amarillo, Kevin said something about the Cadillac Ranch. I did a little research, and found out that the ranch is west of Amarillo. Usually, we drive through Amarillo at night. So, we’ve never seen it from the Interstate. This time, we decided to make a stop. After Kevin refilled the van tank, we parked on the side of the service road. It took a short walk and we were standing in front of ten half sunken in Cadillacs. I handed Katelynn and Sara each a spray can, which were just laying around on the ground. The girls left their marks at the cars. Sara was not happy, she had spray paint on her fingers. I said: “Girl, it’s a vacation trophy along the way. I’ve got spray paint on my fingers, too.” Katelynn showed her fingers and agreed: “See, we all got trophies from our first sight along the road.” Sara lightened up and smiled: “Yeah, I guess I’ve got a trophy.”
Getting to the Texas/New Mexico border, we got into some rain. The temperatures dropped from 89ºF (31ºC) to 65ºF (18ºC) while the thunderstorm came through. It was very refreshing, after the heat and humidity in Dallas.
At the Pajarito Rest Area in New Mexico, we ate dinner. We always bring food on the road to save some $$. The girls enjoy a good old “Road Sandwich made by Momma with L-O-V-E”, some fruits and apple juice. Snacks are important, too. That keeps our girls happy and Kevin’s wallet gets a break. The sun was out, and the kids could walk around for a little bit. Our goal was to make it to Farmington in New Mexico that night.
When we approached Albuquerque, it looked like we are driving into another storm. And sure enough, as soon as we got over that hill it looked as we are driving towards a raging volcano. Driving through the city, the sky unleashed it’s “beast”. Getting down the hill, the wind was so gusty, it shook the whole van, while we dried to make it to the get to the other side of town. Once we were on the west side of Albuquerque, the sun came out and we saw a beautiful double rainbow. We were surprised, how vivid the colors came out and how long it lasted. It looked stunning.
On Highway 550, we were on our last stretch for the day. There was another, much lighter rain storm, before we arrived in Farmington. I could not wait getting out of the car and rest for the night. It was a long day. But we’ve reached our goal. And we weren’t to far from the Four Corners Monument, which we would see the following day.
… to be continued …