Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Day 5: Golden, CO to James Robb state park: Island Acres section

Cheaper at 5000 feet:
I was a pretty cheap drunk on one glass of wine or one rum and coke. But at 5000 ft, I am cheaper. ;-)

We pulled into the state park at about 3pm MT. It's empty. Apparently there is a friendly juvenile black bear about. They've banned all soft sided RVs and tents. So we have the place almost to our self.

Scenic drives:
We had an amazing drive in from Golden. 3 mountain passes in a row; all over 10,000ft. Breathtaking.
RV performed awesomely! Tom is a great driver. We make a good team.

Colorado River:
We are sitting outside our RV. Colorado River just in front of us. New Orleans on the radio by the Hip. About 30 degrees out.

Ok...enough balckberry; time to enjoy M. Nature.

Sent wirelessly from my BlackBerry device on the Bell network.
Envoyé sans fil par mon terminal mobile BlackBerry sur le réseau de Bell.

Day 4: Golden, CO / Denver

We started this day with a shopping trip to Rockmount Ranch wear, just off 16th Mall street in LoDo (lower downtown Denver). Jessica got a great cowboy hat, a silk scarf and a neck kerchief. She spent all her money and more! I got a hat too and red plaid western shirt and Tom got a shirt and gloves. Sophia said "this is not my style" and got nothing - she ended the day as rich as she started :-). She more liked the REI flagship store on the Platte River. That was an awesome outdoor store - it would be easy to spend $10k there (we didn't though).

In Denver we went to the Capitol building and sat on the "Mile High" step - about 5200 ft above sea level. They had many lovely quilts on display and we saw where senate was held.

We had lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. Delicious. I had Mahi Mahi with sangria and Tom had fish tacos and a mai tai. For dessert, Jess got plain and Soph got Reeses Pieces cheesecake. We just "helped" them with their dessert. So much fun.

Later we went to Camping World and Super Target. What a full day. We were wiped out. Ended with a light dinner back at the RV - grilled cheese for the kids and salad for us.

Denver is great. The campground is awesome. I hope we get back here again and spend at least a month. ( Or two)
Sent wirelessly from my BlackBerry device on the Bell network.
Envoyé sans fil par mon terminal mobile BlackBerry sur le réseau de Bell.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Day 3: Denver (actually Golden), Colorado

We are at Dakota Ridge RV park tonight. Left Greenwood, NE at 6:30am CT and arrived at Golden at 2:30pm MT.
I worked out at the exercise room and then we had a family swim. We then went for dinner to Simm's Steakhouse which had a great view of Denver off in the distance. I missed the street initially, and did a massive U-turn down along the highway. But then we spied a Liquor store that we went back to after dinner. Tom got O'Dell double pilsner which was so yummy. I got a bottle of Ravenwood Zinfandel which I had at dinner.
This all made for a lovely evening back at the RV park. Came back and hiked up a little rock outcropping at the RV park, despite warnings of rattlesnakes. Sophia is happy any time she is climbing a rock.

Many beautiful RV's here. Tom liked the Tiffins and Newmars.

Sophia played well after dark at the playground; we outfitted her with a headlamp. All we saw as we sat outside sipping double pilsners and zinfandel was this light swinging around and sliding downwards. It made for a funny sight.

Jess read her book all the while. She just asked to go to bed. ASKED! Sophia will be up till we force her to go to bed.

Day 3 stats(Jul 28):
Departed Greenwood, NE: 6:32amCT. 16,949km. 3 degrees C !!!!

Fuel stop: 10:26amCT, North Platte, NE, Flying J, 16,336km

Entering Moutain Time Zone: 11:07amCT / 10:07am MT

Entering Colorado: 10:50am MT 16,463km

Arrived at Golden, CO: 2:25pm MT
Sent wirelessly from my BlackBerry device on the Bell network.
Envoyé sans fil par mon terminal mobile BlackBerry sur le réseau de Bell.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Day 2: Lansing, MI to Greenwood Nebraska

This day was planned to be the longest travel day of our trip. In the end it got a little longer than planned.

The first detour started at 4:15am when we missed the on ramp (or as our British GPS navigator says "slip road") to the I69 South.   It takes a loooooooooooong time to do a U-turn in this rig. In the end we did in about 20 min and 10 km later, driving through some poor neigbourhood with a loud obnoxious diesel motorhome.

About 1100km later, at the end of the day, we aimed for a city run campground in Papillon, Nebraska, but the last spot was taken about an hour before we showed up.  They directed us the KOA about 20 km west and when we showed up there they were all full.  The grouchy old lady at the KOA reception says, "You know this is Nebraska and you need to reserve your camping because you's very busy."  Bless her, she ended up  suggesting Pine Grove RV in Greenwood and after some encouragement called them for us, and barked into the phone that some people were coming with a 38 foot RV.  It was another 20 km further west and we got the LAST camping spot.

The good news: We got a camping spot for the night !
The next good news: We're 40km closer to Denver than planned.
Lessons Learned:  Reserve your campsite in Nebraska !

Overall this was an awesome travel day. We listened to music ranging from Rolling Stones to Beastie Boys. Jessica, Sophia and I played "Spot It" and read a lot and girls also watched movies.

Tom and I  started the day in the dark, driving from 4:15am to about 7am before the girls woke up. It was nice to sip our delicious coffees and have some time to talk to each other.  There are some great conversations that happen in the dark.

Also, if you travel with me you'll eat very , very well ! I love taking care of this family. We had bagels and cereal for breakfast, followed by apples, pear and apple struedel for morning snack, then had sandwiches and veggies for lunch with some potato chips, later ice cream sandwiches and then turkey burgers and chocolately chip vanilla ice cream cones.  This last part was eaten on our picnic table surrounded by farmers field and blue summer sky.

It was a lovely evening here in Greenwood.  The evening was a little brisk. Pine Grove is a very well maintained campground with a unique playground and icy pool that only the crazy Canadian kids seemed to go in at night.   There was a flying saucer merry go round that Tom pushed the kids on that ended up with Sophia flying off into the grass, but she was OK in the end. Except for Jessica trying to slow it down and ended up kicking her in the head.  Kids are resilient though and she was fine by the time she got into the pool.

We saw wind turbine blades going down the high way. Also crop dusters, likely spraying chemicals from Monsanto that their genetically modified crops are immune to.   Tom is a great driver and got us safely here for the night.

Stats as of Day 2:

July 26, 2013-
Pickering Mileage:  14285km, 1:43pm EST departure
US Sarnia Border: 5:00pm EST - 5:30pm EST, Mileage 14,285km
Flying J Truck Stop, Lansing , MI:   8:20pm EST, 14,802km

July 27, 2013-
Lansing, MI:  4:15am EST departure
Entering Indianna:    6:55EST /   5:55 CT  15,051km (entering Central Time Zone)
Entering Illinois:  6:40AM CT
Entering Iowa:  9:43AM CT  [crossed Mississipi River]
Gas Stop:  Grinell, Iowa  1:00pm CT  15,583km   [Kum & Go]
Entering Nebraska:   3:45pm CT  [crossed Missouri River]
Pine Grove RV Park & Campgroun, Greenwood, Nebraska:  5:20pm CT

Friday, July 26, 2013

Day 1: Home to Lansing, MI

We are en route!   Departure day always has a mix of excitement and anxiety and this one was no different. Somewhere along they way I lost my list.  MY LIST.  I lived by that list to know what to take. In the end I just had to wing it and hope I remembered all 50 things I had written.  

However, this is a good reminder. This trip is only partly planned. With lots of room for the unplanned. Winging it is where the unexpected delights will come.

We have some vague idea of rafting, lots of hiking and biking and we have 1 tour day booked with Highpoint Hummer.  It will be fun to see what ends up happening.    

It's time to just be relaxed that we are looking forward to. Life has been so hectic; the days are blurring together.    We are going to slow things down and really enjoy the kids.  They are both maturing so fast.  I want to get to know what they're thinking.   It's been 30 years since I thought like a kid; I hope I remember!

Mulling all of this while sitting in the co-pilot seat and I read a great article that seems totally on point to kick-off this vacation.  After reading "Sweet Spot",  (link below), I agree , we are in the "sweet spot". And this is one of the few vacations we've had where we didn't cater to the kids all the time.  

Well back to my duties as navigator and head of the cabin crew.  Anyone need a blanket, a drink, a snack?   Sophia has already played travel bingo ( I played too), and the kids played Spot It (great game) and I quizzed Tom on the capitals of the states (he needs some study time).  

Sweet spot:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

2 sleeps to go!

In less than 48 hours we'll be on our way.   Hitting the open road has got to be one of the major all natural highs out there.  At least for us.  The mountains are calling. I know Arches NP is going to rock our worlds.   It seems we are setting out for a place we've never been yet knowing intrinsically that once will not be enough.
 Tonight is reserved for clothes packing, which Tom and I are procrastinating.  Laundry is underway.  Supplies are stocked and ready to go.  Except for essential necessities of Red Solo Cup and Starbucks Keurig pods, which are slotted for tomorrow purchase at Costco.

About 40 hours and counting!