Thursday, November 10, 2016

Wonderful Wanderings out West Part One

Wrap-up of Wonderful Wanderings!
23 days,
6500 miles,
6 national parks,
20 states,
lots of camping and hiking,
tons of audio books,
old friends,
new friends,
amazing memories

We left NC Sunday 12 June 2016 after James cleared and signed out on retirement/ terminal leave. We got on the road early and got to Mollie’s in time for a nice visit and even some Skipbo. It’s so nice to have dinner and breakfast included at the hotel. The kids love it! Monday morning Grandmollie was very happy to see us but she wasn’t feeling well so we had a quick visit and then left so she could rest. Instead of Checker board buffet, we went to Krystal’s for a quick meal and had room for a snowcone!  Everyone loved the carousel! V tried to catch the ducks and called  them “chickens.” Then C and I went back for another visit and more Skipbo. After the pool and dinner, K and I went to Grace Fellowship for Bob's (Ramona’s husband’s) memorial service. Afterwards, we took Mollie home for a visit and you guessed it- more skipbo! We also looked at some of her photo albums- next time we will take the Florida book. K was so sweet to volunteer to go to the memorial service so we got blizzards! Tuesday morning, we had one more visit with Mollie. V loved the “chicken” downstairs and Mollie loved V’s kisses and all of the kids’ hugs.

We made it to Texas in good time and even saw Janelle and kids on the road! It was fun to follow them back to their house. We enjoyed a good visit, bottle-feeding cows and goats, even got to milk 2 goats. Once the cows got in the horse pen and he chased them all over. We got to pet baby bunnies and went to the arboretum to hike and play. It was fun that the kids just picked up playing like it hadn’t been 2 years since we last saw them. Janelle gave me wonderful birthday presents- homemade goat soap and creams, table runners, chocolate, books, … so kind! I had a nice visit with her mom while the kids played basketball. Then Janelle and James took the boys to shoot a hog- they got to ride a Polaris too. While the girls and I (and V) got a movie and Sonic drinks!

hiking at the Arboretum

Taco soup lunch!

Worn out girl!

Morning kid hikes!

We left early Friday morning with homemade muffins, kombucha, and sauerkraut and drove to Aunt Penny and Uncle Joe’s house near Fort Worth. We enjoyed seeing their house and their Panama book and lots of family pictures. She packed muffins, sausage balls, juice and coffee and we had a fun trip to the park. Aunt Penny even made us a huge goodie bag of snacks, puzzle books, a gift card to Steak and Shake, even some clothes for me! A super nice visit!

Friday 17 June We drove to Palo Duro Canyon State Park. It was hot! We had Arby’s on the road for lunch and wraps for dinner. It was really hard to go to sleep because it was so hot- 106 when we got there. I was a little worried about our trip but it cooled down some the next day. Early Saturday morning we hiked the lighthouse trail 6.5 + miles. The last part was really steep up but thankfully James found a better way down. The canyon, hoodoos, cliffs were beautiful. The kids earned their first junior ranger badges. We enjoyed our after dinner hikes- except for the biting flies.

We saw lots of animals: tarantualla, Texas horned lizard, roadrunner, race runner, tons of rabbis, turkey, biting flies, …

So fun to watch the baby birds at our campsite. The parents kept flying back to fee hungry babies.

our slide for life!

Sunday 19 June we drove to Albuquerque, NM and ha a delicious Father’s Day lunch at Questadilla Grill in Old Town. Our waitress was terrific- we got a bunch of different kinds of quesadillas, margaritas, and Mexican hotdogs. The kids loved dinner and swimming at the hotel. I loved a shower and  laundry. We went to a Native American museum (Blue star) where we saw Native American dancing and learned about Pueblos. V loved the dancing room.

Monday 20 June we left Albuquerque and stumbled upon Petrified Forest- so glad we did. It was beautiful! Kids did their junior ranger program and enjoyed a couple of hours at the national park. God is so amazing- loved the views!

We continued driving to Grand Canyon- amazing drive and the Canyon is magnificent. So glad I listened to James and we spent 3 nights. Our campsite had some shade and the kids did great helping set up. We’d cooked taco meat at the hotel and had taco salad for dinner after walking around Mathers Point for a bit. Tuesday morning we had oatmeal and then walked a lot of the rim trail. James, K, and C went 10 minutes down South Kaibab Trail. Then we took the shuttle to the yauapai Museum which was neat to see models and pictures of the canyon. It is so big, beautiful, and breathtaking! We went back to the campsite for lunch- we used our new hobo pie makers to make ground beef and cheese hobo pies. We went to a junior ranger program at El Tovar hotel and hiked some more. We went to another ranger program at the Shrine of Ages. The program was good DUDE- the acronym the park ranger used to explain God’s amazing creation. Deposition, Uplift, Down cutting, Erosion. We went back to camp for dinner- BBQ beef hobo pies and apple pies. Then headed back to the rim for sunset praise service. It took a lot longer to get there than we thought so we were late but the kids asked to go back the next night. More praise- yes! Kids went to sleep quick. James c,  V, and one big kid in the Kingdom 6 tent and the other 3 big kids in the 4 man tent.

Wednesday morning, we had a bowl of granola and then hit the trail. V and c rode in Ergo carriers and the rest carried camelbacks of water. It was pretty tough- the toughest 3 miles I’ve done but everyone did great. The pretty views and yummy snacks helped a lot. Going down was hardest for me bc I was a little worried about slipping/ tripping/ turning an ankle but the rest had tougher time coming up. We started down the same time the mule train started. The guides even fit the part with long mustaches and leather chaps. 

We saw lots more animals: big horned sheep, rattlesnake, elk, lots of mule deer and begging squirrels, and a few chipmunks. We had a snack at the ½ way point and Hello Kitty gummy bears from Aunt Penny on the long hike back up. We were tired when we finished but it was a great hike! We rode the red shuttle to Hopi point where we’d seen the sunset the night before. We looked around a bit- you could see the Colorado River better and then got back on the bus. V loved the shuttle rides- he would grin and grin at people on the bus. A mom of 10 kids said “why would we be surprised that the youngest of 6 kids would be outgoing!” We drove back to camp for a big breakfast of oatmeal, fried egges, pancakes, fried bologna, melon, and juice. V napped, James rested, while the rest of the kids played a buble game. Such a great trip! We wanted to got to the worship service on time so we had an early dinner- hobo pies and made a last trip to the visitor center. We heard part of  a ranger program on California condors and then shared 2 rootbeer floats. V hasn’t’ learned sharing yet but it was good! Amazing to sing praise songs beside beautiful canyon. College students from NPS ministry lead it each night. We got to camp and James made a campfire for songs and s’mores. Nice end to a great stay!