Monday, June 30, 2014


We rented a Toyota Prius Hybrid and drove that baby over 6000 miles across America.  

We started our vacation on 6/11 and our first stop was Lake Havasu City to see the London Bridge.  We ate lunch there and then drove to Hoover Dam.  From there we went to Las Vegas and stayed the night.  We stayed at Excalibur which Nathan loved because it looks like a big castle.  We went for a gondola ride at the Venetian, ate dinner at the Harley Davidson Cafe and we saw the fountain at Bellagio.  

The next day we headed to Utah Olympic Park in Park City where Paul rode the bobsled and we all did the alpine slide.  Driving to Idaho that day we got in a horrible dust storm.  We saw a bunch of tumbleweed flying in the road and a little drizzle and then out of nowhere the dust hit and we could not see a thing.  We quickly got to the side of the road along with other cars and trucks and it was a miracle that none of us hit each other.  That night we stopped at the Idaho Potato Museum, but they were closed.  We just took pictures in front of it.  That night we got the Presidential suite in Idaho Falls so that I could soak in the whirlpool tub.  They gave us a discount on the room, but even though we still paid a pretty penny for it, it was worth it because it finally got rid of my bodyaches that I had for days after getting a painful massage.  

On 6/13, we headed to Grand Teton National Park.  We saw a lot of moose which I had never seen in person before, including a baby and one adult that got pretty close to us near a visitor's center.  I really enjoyed the Grand Tetons and the snow capped mountains were just beautiful.  Next we drove to Yellowstone.  One of the first of many animals we saw was a mother and baby elk.  We saw Old Faithful before heading out of the park for the night.  

We returned to Yellowstone the next day.  We saw lots of buffalo, geysers, waterfalls, and wildflowers.  We saw a bear and some crazy people who were getting too close for comfort to take pictures of it.  On the way back to our hotel that night we saw a fox.  I think that is the first time I had ever seen a fox in the wild.  

On 6/15, we started the day at Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center just outside Yellowstone.  From there we headed back to Yellowstone for the day.  

On 6/16, we headed to Devil’s Tower National Monument.  We saw deer, ram and prairie dogs.  We also made a stop at Montana Grizzly Encounter.  During our travels that day we saw pronghorn sheep, too.  That night we stayed in Deadwood, SD.  

The next day we headed to Sturgis stopping at the Harley Shop there.  Then we went to Bear Country USA, a drive thru wildlife park similar to Bearizona in Arizona.  After Bear Country USA, we headed to Mount Rushmore.  After Mount Rushmore, we drove through the Badlands.  That night we drove through a horrible thunderstorm on the way to Sioux Falls.  It was so scary we had to stop under some bridges to wait it out a bit, but then we decided to go on.  

The next morning we visited the Sioux Falls before heading out of town.  We drove through Iowa stopping at a cave that Paul and Nathan went in.  I opted out because there were 250 stairs and caves do not really thrill me.  We ate dinner at Fried Green Tomatoes in Galena, IL before heading to Rockford for the night.  

The next day we met grandma and grandpa Hoehn at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, IL.  We ate dinner at Stir Crazy!  We stayed the night in Bolingbrook with Paul’s sister Tracy.  

The next day we visited with Paul’s brother and his family before heading to my grandma’s for the night.  

6/21 we went to Brookfield Zoo and spent the day with Paul’s sister Lisa and her family.  

6/22 we met grandma and grandpa Hoehn in South Haven, MI.  Nathan loved playing at the beach.  That night we drove to Grand Haven to see the lighted musical fountain.  I was excited because I figured out some settings on my camera to actually get decent shots of it.  Usually I am terrible at night shots.  

6/23 we went to Lincoln Park Zoo.  We met grandma and grandpa Hoehn and Carol at Uncle Julio's in Orland Park for dinner.  Paul and I used to eat at the Uncle Julio's in the northern suburbs back when we worked in that area.  This one was just as good!  

6/24 we started our trip back to Tucson.  We stopped at the World’s Largest Truck Stop in Iowa and we got to see the covered bridges in Madison County.   We had lunch in Omaha, Nebraska.    

6/25 we drove to Denver and went to a Rockies/Cardinals game.  We stayed the night in Denver and the next day we went to the Wild Animal Sanctuary and then to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.  

6/27 we went to Garden of the gods and then drove up to Pike’s Peak in Colorado Springs.  Then we went to Colorado Wolf & Wildlife Center hoping to “kiss a wolf”.  The tour was booked and we did not have a lot of time to wait around for the next one.  However, I got to interact with foxes!  Nathan was too young to go in with the foxes so I got to feed them and get close to them.  They took a lot of pictures of me and gave me a photo CD.  It was a very cool experience.  

6/28 we went to Arches National Park.  I did not know what I was getting myself into when we started the hike to Delicate Arch.  It was a strenuous 1.5 mile uphill hike in 90+ temps.  It was depressing to see people heavier and/or older than myself hiking it while I was about to die.  I made it, though, and I stood under the arch.  After Arches National Park we drove through part of the Canyonlands.  It was getting late so we started driving toward Page, AZ.  We stayed the night in Page and did the upper Antelope Canyon tour in the morning.  Then we made the drive home and arrived last night.                      

I did a lot of experimenting with my camera this trip which I have to admit did not work out so well.  Just proves that I really need to learn more about my camera and photography.  I did a class a year or so ago and I was really overwhelmed, but I need to somehow find the time to learn more.  It also would be nice to get new equipment, like a longer lens (my zoom is 300mm).  Still, I took over 3000 shots so I hope that some of them are decent!

So we got to see a lot of animals and wildflowers this trip which exited me.  Nathan got to play in snow and at the beach all in one trip.  This was a very busy vacation so there was no time for relaxing.  I need a vacation from my vacation!  Instead, I have to unpack everything, do a million loads of laundry, get groceries, pay bills, go through mail, check my email and Facebook, go through 3000+ pictures, etc....

Summer is here!

Memorial Day we went up to Mt Lemmon.

5/31 we went to Tucson International Speedway.

On 6/6, I went to DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun and Sweetwater Wetlands.

I went to the Desert Museum's Saturday Summer Nights on 6/7.