National Park

Ice Age National Trail

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A 1200 mile trail that zig zags around the state tracing what is believed to be the edge of a large glacier in a time when the climate was much colder (The Ice Age) all with in the state of Wisconsin.  I think that we may have hiked small sections of this trail in Door County but this section was south and east of Neenah to a distance of one hours travel. Today we got to go to the visitors center, attend a presentation, and take a pretty long hike, for us at least, 3-5 mile.  (All the distances were marked from different starting points and we walked a loop made up of parts of five different trails.) the sun was out, a slight breeze made the leaves trickle down on us and the tops of the trees swayed peacefully.  The birds were out in full chorus, and we were kind of wishing we had put a tin whistle in our pack.  It was fall weather perfection and we drank it in with all of our senses: the beautiful colors and rays of sunlight, the feel of the breeze and warmth of the direct sun with no clouds to intercept, the crunch of the ankle deep leaves with every step, the smell of earth and sweet wet leaves that laced the fresh air, and if you are Eve the taste of the leaves and acorns that she kept putting in her mouth pretending that they were pickles and catsup.

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Caleb and his grappling hook

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The kids did such a good job and we all had a lot of fun.  Now I’m sitting.  At the kitchen table listening to Chad read to the kids up stairs, and Dave Ramsey’s saying comes to mind, we are definitely better than we deserve and so thankful for the many ways God has blessed us today.

Categories: Family Time, Fun, National Park | Leave a comment

B-Day in Transit. St. Luis Gateway Arch

Staying with friends last night made for a fun change in pace, although we were up early as usual.  Travis and Kim had appointments early, so we said our good byes and made it to Jefferson City and the Missouri Capitol building in time for the 9:00am tour.  The Capitol was built in Jefferson City when only a few families lived there.  It was chosen because it is towards the center of the state and right on the Missouri River which was the main source of transportation at the time. It is made up almost entirely with Missouri native limestone and is very dark inside at least on the first two stories. There are solid granite pillars in the House and Senate that were brought in from New Hampshire. The painted murals were interesting but also older and dark looking except on one room (and for the life of me I can’t remember the room.)

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The white spine-looking thing is a coral fossil in the limestone.

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They had a hall of famous Missourians, where the kids found several people they recognized.

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Sacagawea (must have come back to and lived in Missouri after the expedition)

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Laura Ingles Wilder

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I know those are out of order and I did get a picture of Samuel Clemens on Chad’s phone there was also Bob Barker and a whole lot of others as well as Lewis and Clark.  It was fun to read about them.

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Thomas Jefferson is such a huge and honored figure in Missouri, because of his purchase of the Louisiana territory, allowing the westward expansion past the Missouri River and the settling of the land now known as the state of Missouri.
That leads us to the next stop, a famous land mark in the city of St. Luis, the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, also know as the gateway arch.  The gateway to the west.

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With our pass we got a discounted rate for the tram to the top, which made it surreal to how high we had climbed. Something about having to take each step physically that make you appreciate the grandness and scale, but as that wasn’t exactly an option, the tram would have to do.  We enjoyed the view through the tiny little windows.  The views were incredible, however it was hot, stuffy and very crowded, so we didn’t stay at the top for very long.

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We got one family picture by a highschooler in a group as I get a little older I find these highschooler groups some of the most interesting people to watch.  I can hardly remember being that age, even though it was not that long ago.

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We also enjoyed the museum attached to the arch.  We are all getting a little tired of the car, so we decided to stop at the first La Quinta in Illinois and spend the rest of the day by the pool.

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Swimming and pizza by the pool.

A load of laundry got done, giving us enough travel clothes to make it to Neenah… Life is good.  Other bonuses of the day were taking the back roads between Jefferson City and St. Luis and lunch in a little town called Owensville.

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Thank you all for the birthday wishes!

Categories: Family Time, Fun, National Park, national parks, Road Trip, Travel | Leave a comment

NM to WI day 1

Being a day late with this post, leaving Farmington already feels like a long time ago.  We packed, walked the dog, vacuumed/cleaned and then headed out around 10:30am.  We wanted to tour the Capitol building in Denver, so we needed to get there on a week day so we didn’t have to put in too many miles.  We drove up through Ignacio where they were having some kind of multi cultural fiesta.

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It took all of about 15 minutes to walk through it but I think it was still fun to see. Next we headed towards Chimney Rock National Monument and we lucked out there too.  They were also having a summer festival having no connection to the Fiesta in Ignacio.  The kids dug for bones.

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Made mini woven rugs.

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Had petroglyphs painted on their faces.

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Caleb’s is the migration symbol which he felt was quite appropriate for us.
Then the kids made clay pots, and smashed soaked yucca leaves until only the fibers remained.

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Chad and Caleb also practiced launching a spear with an atlatle. We also took turns looking at the sun through a filtered telescope and learning about sun spots and magnetic fields.

20140727-201711-73031743.jpg What a jackpot!  The kids left Chimney Rock declaring that it was most definitely their favorite National Monument/Park. From there we headed up to Lake Vallecito to camp for the night.  We slowly drove around the lake and checked each of the four or five campgrounds for available spots to no avail.  We found a day use area and piled out of the car to eat dinner lakeside.

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We changed our plan to heading towards Denver, checking out campgrounds as we went.  We didn’t have to wait too long before pulling into the Ute Campground, which was primitive and nearly empty, with quite a few available sites. Perfect!

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-Sarah

Categories: Family Time, National Park, national parks, Road Trip, Travel | Leave a comment

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Phew…done with my fourth night, with the weekend to enjoy my family and maybe squeeze in one more sight-seeing trip.  A co-workers daughter is trying to get her permit driving hours in so she can get her license so she drives her mom to work and I drive her back home.  I have enjoyed getting to know her. It has been a while since I have talked to a teenager about their hopes and dreams, and also I count it a huge complement that this coworker whom I have known for such a short time trusts me with her baby.  After dropping her off I headed home with a plan to propose a day trip, albeit long, to one of the National Monuments close-ish to us that Chad and I had both been hoping to see.

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Chad was on board with that, as long as it didn’t require a hotel stay as we need to save up for the 7 or so hotel stays it will take us to get to our next assignment.
We had breakfast.  I changed out of my work clothes, we walked Myra, and then all piled into the car.  I have joked about the kids developing calloused behinds, but I am partially serious.  The four and a half hours to the visitors center involved only a few requests for a bathroom stop and lunch, no complaints.

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Waiting in line for the bathroom.

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We passed lake Powell and if it wasn’t for a bit of a time crunch, may have had to jump in.  It would be a fun place to rent a house boat some time.

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The visitor center at Grand Staircase-Escalante was smaller and less taken care of than I imagined it would be in the whole spectrum we have seen so far.  Funny because I didn’t realize I had an expectation until it wasn’t met.

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Quoting from the visitors guide, “Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was established by Presidential Proclamation in 1996 (for our fellow homeschool kids, who was president at that time?)…According to the Proclamation, ‘Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument’s vast and austere landscape embraces a spectacular array of scientific and historic resources. This high, rugged, and remote region, where bold plateaus and multi-hued cliffs run for distances that defy human perspective, was the last place in the continental United Sates to be mapped. Even today, this unspoiled natural area remains a frontier, a quality that greatly enhances the Monument’s value for scientific study….'” It spans nearly 1.9 million acres of Americas Public lands.  Scientists from around the world come to GSENM for all kinds of areas of study.
We didn’t do their Jr. Scientist program, as it was after lunch and frankly, I didn’t have the energy for it.  I kind of regret that decision now, as it was an opportunity we never know if we will have again.  Oh well, it truly was beautiful and I LOVE bumpy dirt roads and exploring, so the park was a real treat.

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Hannah found a cool larva exoskeleton, we don’t know what kind of bug it is.

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The Paria River, a wash, actually had water in it, as it is the rainy season here.

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With the park being so HUGE, there is no way to see it all in one day and too hot do do any long hikes (only 102).  We really enjoyed our 30 miles one way up and back on a bumpy dirt road drive, but it is just the tip of the iceberg.  Chad, Caleb, and Hannah started up the Cottonwood South trail a little over 1/4 mile.

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We keep saying we are going to need to come back to this area, maybe Flagstaff, because there is so much we had wanted to do but are just not going to get to.
We were sad to say good bye to the park, and turned on an audio book, pointing the car towards home.

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Thank you Lord for this opportunity to learn more about your creation.

Categories: Family Time, Fun, National Park, national parks, new mexico | 2 Comments

What to say about today

It was amazing to wake up to the beautiful view of red rocks this morning in Sedona.

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I wanted so badly to hike up in the hills and stay there.  They are just so beautiful, peaceful and thought provoking.  A place to think and get life kind of sorted out.  What an amazing gift we have been given in the beauty of nature and all the forms it takes.  We got dressed and ready to go.  At breakfast Mary Beth invited an older lady to sit with us.  I think our breakfast discussion with her may have been the highlight of my day.  We learned about her childhood in New Jersey, how wonderful her little sister was as a kid, life as a Girl Scout troop leader and much more.  I need to remember to open myself up to those type of opportunities to learn and love on someone else more often.  We may have gotten out of town later than we had planned, but it was well worth it.  The scenic drive to Flagstaff was also worth the extra time it may have taken and we took advantage of the time to chat. Mary Beth may know my entire family tree now.  The Grand Canyon was no disappointment either.  As opposed to the rain and snow we experienced when we went as a family, this time it was slightly warm with wind gusts that made you fight to hold your hair back as you smiled in delight.  We found a little trail that led down into the canyon and followed it down a few switchbacks.  It was far enough away from the rim to minimize the sounds of talking and laughter from above, and you could actually hear the quiet roar of the river below.  What an amazing feeling standing on a ledge against the red rock of the canyon in almost compete silence, only the very faint sound of the river. I could have stayed there all day.  It may have been the longest period of silence I have experienced in weeks, or perhaps months.  I could feel my heart just opening up to soak in the wonder and beauty of one of the most amazing sights on earth.

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After some major traffic, we made it to Tuba city around 2:30 and got lunch.  We had wanted to see the Hopi Mesas, but did not see them on our map nor any signs anywhere, even after driving through the Hopi reservation.  It was a pretty long drive, but with the hymns playing on the radio we could sing the miles away.
Gallup for dinner was an interesting experience.  I had been told that there was this restaurant named Earls that had good food, and the Navajo people came to your table and showed you their wares as you ate.  I am not big on buying things because of our limited space, and I hate to have to say no thank you, but I was assured it was low pressure and a worth while experience to have.  It wasn’t at all what I thought it would be like.  It was an older looking place and the food was OK. The people selling their wares were low pressure.  It may have had something to do with the time, but there wasn’t much variety, and nothing that really caught my eye.  We watched the sunset as we drove towards Shiprock.  It wasn’t as much fun to show Mary Beth the area in the dark but we do have a few more days, and a few more opportunities to see it.  For now we are just glad to be off our bottoms and wondering with all this car time if we shouldn’t be more proactively trying to prevent a DVT.
Goodnight from Farmington.

Categories: Friends, National Park, national parks, new mexico, Road Trip, Travel | Leave a comment

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

We just finished hiking through Carlsbad Caverns.  It was awe some.  So cool to see all the natural formations and pools in the cavern.  The kids really enjoyed it and liked the hike.  We were a little disappointed that the cafe down in the cavern was closed, but it was still a great experience and one of my favorite national parks yet.

~Chad

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Categories: Family Time, National Park, new mexico, Travel | Leave a comment

White Sands National Monument!

A looooong drive…..7 1/2 hrs south down to White Sands National Monument.  We drove through missile test sites, pistachio groves in Alamogordo, lava fields all the way to the bottom of the state, but White Sands was so worth it.  I was told it was one of those “been there done that” things….so not.  It was like the beach where you could spend hours contemplating life, playing, and you could spend all day just taking in it’s beauty.  Due to construction, and it just being a loooong way from Farmington, we didn’t have as much time there as we could have spent.  We played in the sand for a little more than an hour then we drove through the whole park enjoying the sight.  After that we did our Jr. ranger homework in the museum/visitors center.  Now onto Roswell.

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Do you see the Great Horned Owl (there is a whole family up there) in the soap tree yucca?

Categories: National Park, new mexico, Road Trip, Travel | Leave a comment

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