On the Road Again–Homeward Bound

We could not take as leisurely a trip home as we did on the way up because we had to move into our house as soon as we got back.  (In case you haven’t been following along, we moved to Dallas from Alaska back in October; we already had a house we’d bought in 2014 but it had renters in it so we lived in an apartment till their lease was up June 30).  Don’t ask me what I was thinking to schedule a vacation right before we had to move.

Deciding to bite the bullet and make the first day a long one, we pushed on to Colorado where we met up with Bonnie and David and kids for the night.  The kids were excited to have adjoining rooms at the hotel, which we could walk back and forth through.  How much fun is that?!

After dinner and wandering around, it was too late to swim in the hotel pool so we let the kids have a morning dip after breakfast.  Then off to Amarillo to spend the night with Bonnie and Dave.

On the way, we decided to stop at the Capulin Volcano National Monument in N.M.  When my girls were growing up, we stopped at the volcano a couple of times when we were traveling to Colorado.  Susan was small and was very worried that the volcano would erupt while we were in it. I can remember her sitting in the back of the car, almost in tears, telling us that her hands were very sweaty.  🙂  I told Aidan and Ally this story about their mom and Ally said, “My hands are kinda sweaty, too!”  She was also somewhat concerned about the volcano and what might happen while we were there.  We tried to explain that it erupted long, long ago and there was virtually no chance of it happening again.  Then when we got to the visitor center, we were warned to be on the lookout for rattlesnakes and mountain lions!

Continue reading “On the Road Again–Homeward Bound”

Last Day in Jackson

We decided to get up and go to a late breakfast at Dornan’s but we were slowpokes and by the time we got there, they were closing up.  Sarah & Elle and Bonnie, Dave &  kids wanted to go on another hike so they grabbed some deli food while we took Aidan and Ally and went back into town, ate some lunch and wandered around for awhile.  Got the kids each a T-shirt and came back to the house.  The others were gone most of the day but Mom, Kathi, Ryan and Abby came out to visit, joined by my cousin Mary and her husband John.  The  kids love Abby, who’s 20 and gives them lots of attention.  She played Mexican  Train with them and kept them entertained all afternoon.  Mom and Ryan left to attend a bbq at Denise’s cousin’s, then we all met back up later for dinner at Q Roadhouse, which has a huge field outside where the kids could run and play to their hearts’ content.  It was a fun night and we enjoyed visiting with everyone while sitting on the deck.

Afterwards, everyone went back to the house while Rich and I ran to the store to pick up some ice cream and brownies.  I am lucky to be married to a chef and also lucky that my cousin Mary is a pastry chef in Chicago!  She made some delicious caramel sauce and chocolate sauce for our desserts.  Yum.


Soon it was time to say our goodbyes, pack up and get ready to leave in the morning. Bonnie and David planned to leave at 4 AM, Sarah and Elle had to get to the airport around 5:30 AM, so they were all up and gone by the time the rest of us rolled out of bed.  Goodbye, Jackson!  It was a great trip!

Ellie and Blane’s Wedding

The main reason for coming to Jackson was for my niece Ellie’s wedding.  Ally, Elle and Emery were thrilled to be asked to be flower girls.  They are so funny and thought that they would get to be on stage, singing songs to Ellie and Blane.  This is the same idea they had at my niece Nicole’s wedding two years ago so they certainly didn’t let it go when it never happened the first time.

David and Bonnie took a bunch of beautiful wedding photos which I don’t have access to yet, but I will post some when I get them.  For now, these snapshots will have to do!

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It was a beautiful wedding and lots of fun for all. Glad we got to be a part of this special day!

Fun at the house

We had a great house about 15 minutes from town.  The kids had a bunk room where four of them slept and they all played.  They also loved the hot tub and playing some big games of Mexican Train.  Aidan is the best big cousin and all of the little kids adore him.  He was so cute with the youngest ones, holding Ada and letting Luke fall asleep on his lap. What a great kid.  The three bigger girls are mostly the best of friends and play very well together, until they don’t.  We had a few squabbles but nothing big.  🙂  I think it’s hard with three–someone ends up being the odd person out periodically. But all in all they have lots of fun together and are always so happy to see each other.

I took a little walk around our neighborhood and these Wyoming lupines certainly made me think of Alaska!

We arrive in Jackson Hole

My niece Ellie was getting married on June 25; our granddaughters Ally, Elle and Emery were set to be flower girls (and oh, so excited about it) and we would reunite with several family members while there.  My daughter Bonnie, her husband David, and their three kids were road tripping from Amarillo; David is a high school teacher but also a very talented photographer and he and Bonnie were going to be taking Ellie and Blane’s wedding photos.  My daughter Sarah and her daughter Elle were flying in the same day we would arrive by car.  My mom and my niece Abby were coming in from NJ, my sister and one of my nephews from San Antonio, my aunt from NJ and my cousin from MD, my cousin from Chicago, and my sister in law’s family as well as family friends we’d met over the years.

We were arriving on Thursday and thought the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner were on Friday but we soon realized both were happening Thursday night. Luckily we made it to town before 3 PM and checked into the house we were sharing with Sarah, Bonnie and Dave and all the kids.  We had to rush to get ready and headed over to my brother Joe and sister in law Denise’s  house for the rehearsal, then to one of their restaurants for dinner with all of the wedding party, family and friends.  It was great to see everyone and to catch up on all of the happenings.

Rehearsal dinner clockwise from top L: Mom, my brother Joe, Aunt Mary; my sister Kathi and cousin Robert;  Aidan and my niece Abby;  Bonnie and me; Sarah and Bonnie; flower girls Elle, Emery and Ally; grandkids Ada and Luke.

Since we had the rehearsal dinner on Thursday, Friday was a free day.  Sarah, Bonnie and David took some of the kids on a hike in the morning and then the rest of us met up with them for lunch at one of my brother and sister in law’s restaurants, Liberty Burger. The kids had fun sitting on the deck overlooking the street.

Ada                                                             Elle, Emery, Ally, Luke, Sarah, Bonnie

We then took the kids to the alpine slide and new “cowboy coaster.”  Everything was pricy so we told them they could take one ride on the coaster (cheap grandparents!)  They loved it and probably would have gone again and again.

The younger kids had to have a driver. Aidan was the only one who could go by himself.  🙂

To placate them for not letting them ride the rides all day, we went down the hill and ran around the playground for a little longer.

Then we met up with family for dinner.  We tried two places that were both closed for private parties, then drove to Teton Village where another one was closed, and finally found a place where we could eat.  It was a little chilly sitting outside, though!


Day Four: Dinosaur National Monument

We were cruising along the highway toward Dinosaur National Monument, listening to music (Grandparent “win” when the granddaughter asks to listen to “some Beach Boys”), playing word games (“‘A’ my name is ________ and I come from ___________; I’m on my way to ____________ with some __________ in my pocket” and so on, in alphabetical order).  Still looking for motorcycle riders with beards and wondering if those are rain clouds in the sky.  The kids really are great travelers; we had a few little spats in the back seat but nothing major to speak of.  They don’t complain about being bored and will take a nap or find something to do if they are.  If we kept the cooler full of drinks and a few snacks on hand, with an occasional bathroom break, all was well with the roadtrippers.

Coincidentally (or not), Rich and I were talking about how people are so dependent on the GPS these days and recounting stories we’d heard of families or elderly people getting lost by following their GPS into unknown territory, losing cell service, and having a tragedy occur.  We turned off the highway into Dinosaur National Monument but there was no ranger station or gate and the visitor center was a little bit back off the road so we just kept on going, following Siri and her instructions.  We eventually came to a downhill dirt road where Siri told us to turn. We turned and immediately saw a sign that said the road was not passable by passenger vehicles.  In my head I began to wonder how many people ignore that sign and give it a try anyway.  It really did not look bad from the top but there was no way to know how it would end up later. We didn’t even discuss it but knew we would not risk the kids or ourselves by attempting the drive. Rich backed up and we got out of the car to look at a posted map (we also had an atlas in the car but the park was not outlined in much detail).  We figured out that this road was not going to take us where we wanted to go to see the dinosaur bones exhibit and petroglyphs on the cliffs. Oh, yeah, and our cell service was gone, too!  Just then a ranger drove up in a pickup with two other SUV type vehicles following him.  I said hello and told him our situation. He said we basically needed to turn around and go back to the highway and use a different entrance to the park, confirming that yes, this happens a lot around here. 🙂

We backtracked for a bit and got onto the highway which led us further into Utah and another entrance to the park.  By now it was after 3 PM–so much for a short day!  Truth be told, Rich and I were tired of the whole thing and didn’t even want to go to the park any more but the kids had been so good in the car all day that we didn’t want to tell them we weren’t going.  We drove up to the visitor center/main entrance and one of the rangers told us a few things we could do with the couple of hours we had left.  The first was to ride the shuttle to the museum to see a whole wall of discovered dinosaur bones.  The next was to drive through the park on our own and look at the petroglyphs on the hillsides.  The last was that Ally could complete some activities in a booklet and become a Jr. Ranger.  All three sounded good and Ally was more than excited to do the Jr. Ranger thing.  With perfect timing, the shuttle was about to leave for the museum so we hopped on board.

The Quarry Exhibit Hall was super cool, containing a wall of approximately 1500 dinosaur bones from Allosaurus, Apatosaurus, Camarasaurus, Diplodicus, Stegosaurus and more. There’s even a section where you can actually touch the bones.  Included in the exhibit hall   are stations with more info about the dinosaur bones and how they were discovered, along with drawings and models of various dinosaurs. It was all pretty impressive! You can read more about Dinosaur National Monument here.

Following our visit to the exhibit, we jumped in the car and took a drive through the park to find a few petroglyphs before it got too late. Meanwhile, Ally was busy checking off items and completing activities in her booklet.

We drove quite a ways without seeing any petroglyphs but there was one area marked on the map that stated the petroglyphs were right off the road. Sure enough, we eventually found them and they were awesome!  They were made by the Fremont people who lived in the area about 1000 years ago.


By then it was late and the center was about to close so we had to rush right down and turn in Ally’s booklet to get her Jr. Ranger badge.  Seriously, I thought it was going to be no big deal–she’d turn in her booklet and they’d hand her a badge.  Not at all!  She had to answer some questions from the ranger, discuss what she’d learned, put up her hand and take a pledge to protect the fossils, animals and plants, learn new things and share what she’d learned, and so on.  She said her pledge, the ranger signed off on her booklet, gave her a badge and all the rangers behind the counter started applauding.  It was so cute and you’d have thought Ally had won a big prize.  She was so happy and proud of herself!  Good job, Ally!

We drove into Vernal, Utah, where we had a room for the night.  Rich had a digital coupon from restaurants.com so he looked for a place that would take the coupon.  We decided on the Vernal Brewing Company, where we had a really nice dinner and Rich tried their peach ale.  At the end of dinner, he brought out his phone to use the coupon and, of course, it wouldn’t work.  Our server and the floor manager tried to help with no luck. We said it was fine and we’d just pay for it and save the coupon for later.  Rich handed over his credit card and the manager came back a little later to say that he had given us the discount anyway.  What a nice surprise!  What a nice guy!  So if you ever go to Vernal, UT, stop in at the Brewing Co. and give them some business!


Next stop, Jackson Hole, to see family and friends and attend my niece  Ellie’s wedding.


Road Trippin’ Day One: Santa Fe

We got up around 7 this morning and left Susan and Corey’s at 8, stopping at the local McDonald’s for a quick breakfast before heading out on I-20.  It was raining a little when we drove off, but soon cleared and we had a pretty easy day all in all.

It was about a 7 hour drive, the longest day we will have on this trip, but the kids did great and everything went smoothly.  We played several games in the car and especially enjoyed a scavenger hunt where we had to check things off, such as “a police car with its lights on,” “a motorcycle rider with a beard,” “a driver picking his nose,” “the letter Q,” “a rusty old pickup truck” and lots more.  We saw the police car pretty early in the trip but thankfully it was not coming after us!

With the time change, we arrived in Santa Fe around 3:30 PM.  After checking into our hotel, the kids were dying to get into the pool so we went down for a swim.  Kids being kids, they immediately made new friends and had a great time playing with their fellow guests for awhile.

We got dressed and walked down to a pizza place nearby, then wandered around the square and saw some of the sights near the hotel.  Since it was Sunday, not too many places were open but we enjoyed taking a walk on a nice, pretty evening.  The last time we were in Santa Fe, Aidan was just a baby!

Now we’re just chillin’ in the hotel room and about to hit the hay.  We’re aiming for an early departure to Mesa Verde tomorrow.