My Europe Road Trip: Part IV – The Netherlands

The Netherlands (aka Holland)

I’m going to show my ignorance but before this trip I did not realize The Netherlands = Holland. I learned it right before we left when I was looking over my itinerary and tried to figure out when we were going to be in Holland since it wasn’t listed. Continue reading

My Europe Road Trip: Part II – Germany

Berlin

We arrived in Berlin at 7:00am. Of course, we could not take any time to rest. We already lost one day. Our hotel rooms weren’t ready when we checked in at the hotel so we dropped our luggage in our tour host’s, KG,  room and headed out for the day. I wore the same clothes I wore on all the plane rides so I didn’t feel presentable.  In fact, I felt rather gross and stinky.  The pictures of me on this first day will never see the light of day if I can help it.  Not pretty.  Continue reading

Birthday Road Trip ’16: Mesa Verde

The idea for this year’s road trip came to me a few months earlier. I saw pictures of the cliff ruins in Mesa Verde and wondered where they were located. After looking them up and discovering they were only in southern Colorado I figured I could do that this year. It looked fun.

The next step involved mapping my road trip out. Initially, I thought of doing more of a loop but after certain stressful events occurred a couple weeks prior to my trip, I changed my plans. I’d leave a day earlier and stay at my sisters’ for a day which meant no loop. But it did mean I’d spend my birthday with family and that sounded a lot better than spending it traveling alone anyway. So I left work Thursday and went to the apartment my sisters share in Utah.

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In the beginning…

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The last weekend of summer…

Labor Day.  I do not like Labor Day at all.  It is such a depressing day filled with regret of missed opportunities for summer days.  It is the second worst day of the year.

On that lovely note, let me share with you how I spent the last weekend of the summer. I know, I know, according to the calendar summer has a few weeks yet.  Let me just say, calendar makers do not live in Wyoming.  We are threatened and expect to be graced by that awful S word any day now.  It just takes one cold front to move in.

Usually I spend the last hoorah wallowing.  But this year, my niece Lyn invited me to take a trip with her.  I traveled to Uah Friday night and on Saturday Lyn and her mom MZ took me to Salt Lake.  As if in the actual lake – not the city.

I’ve been to Antelope Island once before about 14 years ago and the only thing I remembered about it is it was kind of cold that day.  I tried to be more prepared this time and researched it.  However, here’s a little bit of sage advice for you.  When researching your destination it is most helpful to google the actual name of the place you are going to.  It is less effective to google the name of local destination.  In my defense, they are both islands.  One is just located here in Wyoming.

I confused my coworkers when I told them I was going to Utah to visit the island that is 15 minutes away.  Oh well.  What can I say?  I have my moments.

Saturday morning was overcast as we headed to the Antelope Island.  We arrived 30 minutes after the park opened and couldn’t get over how empty it seemed.  “This is the last weekend of the summer people!” We scolded to the missing visitors.  “You should be out enjoying it!”

This is video taken at the visitor’s center.  I was hoping to film some of the massive flocks of birds (that you can hear) but they were all shy.  They would wait until out of view and then fly off.  Oh and those two clicks you hear?  They are MZ taking pictures.

We looked for the shortest hike that was marked Easy to Moderate and took it (because of time contraints – not because we are lazy.  Well, they aren’t lazy).  Although if you ask our opinion, it was more on the moderate side with a steep incline in the middle.  It did give us a good view of the Great Salt Lake.

After the hike we walked down to the beach and smelled the fine aroma of a dead lake.  Ever smelt a dead lake before?  It stinks.

We then drove down to a ranch house in the middle of the island.  I can’t imagine trying to make a living on the place.  Even in mild weather it did not seem like a formidable location.  I did learn one thing though, old barns creep me out. It’s true.  I couldn’t get out fast enough.

We ate lunch on the island at the only place that offered food.  It was a fun low-key day.

Birthday Road Trip: 2014 Edition

It wasn’t going to be very adventurous this year. Not compared to last year’s road trip. But I was excited for a low-key vacation.

For Christmas, my older sister MZ and her daughter Lyn gave my little sister NJ and me tickets to see the traveling Broadway production of Wicked when it came to Salt Lake. We were excited – even though Lyn complained we weren’t “excited enough” on Christmas morning. To be fair, what we were looking at were receipt printouts since the tickets wouldn’t be available till later. It took a moment or two to register.

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My Fourth of July

I decided to make a night of it.

It’s been my goal to attend the temple on a monthly basis this year. So far, so good. But July’s calendar looked exhausting on my phone. Almost every day had a little dot associated with it. Those dots generally represented to-do’s or places I needed to be.

Ugh, I thought. When am I going to squeeze in a 200 mile round trip to the temple?

Since I had the fourth off I decided that would be my best bet. But the temple was closed for the holiday. Hmmm. I had a lot on my plate to think about, what if I went down Thursday after work, attended the temple, then stayed for the night? On Friday I could mosey my way home and do a little sightseeing that I’m usually too pressed for time to enjoy.

Yes, I’d make a night of it.

Thursday went rather smoothly all according to plan.

Friday I woke up and decided to start my way back home. My first stop was Taco Bell to grab some breakfast. While ordering noticed groups of people walking in a common direction.

“Is there going to be a parade this morning?” I asked my friendly Taco Bell worker.

“Yes,” she replied.

“Is it going to be on that main road?” The main road out of town. Also known as my escape route.

“Yep.”

“Is there another way out of town?” I asked.

“Oh, well you take a right out of the parking lot then a left, then do kind of a zig-zag….” her directions went on but she lost me at the zig zag. When she finished she looked at me and asked, “Do you want me to write this down?”

I scoffed. We stood in Po-dunk USA. Surely, it would not be that complicated to find my way out of town.

I enjoyed my breakfast burrito and took my tray to the trash. Instead of emptying the contents of my tray, I accidently let go and threw the whole tray away. Never done that before? It’s embarrassing, let me tell you. (sigh) And, unfortunately, a good indicator how the rest of my trip would go.

It turns out it is possible to get lost in Po-dunk USA. I figured I would eventually connect with the highway out of town. I figured all wrong. I drove for several minutes. The houses turned into ranches. The ranches became sparse. I continued my way determined the roads would intersect.

Finally, I realized the road I was on was never going to connect with the highway. I checked the map app on my phone to confirm (because I was sure the highway was just over the “next hill”). It couldn’t even tell me where I was. I had no choice but to back track.

No worries! Just an added adventure to my day.

I finally made my way to the highway and pointed in the right direction started for home.

For the past ten years since I’ve been attending this particular temple, I noticed a fun trail alongside the road. I’m usually in too big of a hurry to stop and hike it thought. But today, today would be the day. I pulled over to the trail head and was surprised I was the only car in the parking lot until I saw the sign.

Well, crud.

So, I climbed in the car and continued on my way. It wasn’t the only stop I was going to make that day. I still had another one a ways down the road.

There were a couple of mishaps along the way but thankfully I was watched over and protected. One was my fault the other another driver’s. But I made it safely to my next destination. It was a place I had visited years ago with my family. I knew there were trails to follow and a visitor’s center. The exact details were a bit fuzzy since it had been so many years ago.

I followed the signs to the restaurant and store. Nothing about it looked familiar. I asked the clerk for details about the trails. He pulled out a couple of maps. “This one will take you to the overlooks,” he said. “It’s only about ¾ mile there and another mile to the visitor’s center.” I nodded and ignored the other map he had out with day long hikes. “Can I drive to the visitor’s center?”

“You can, but I suggest you hike it and leave your car here.”

Okay. So, I set off to see the overlooks. Should I change shoes? I wondered and looked at the sandals on my feet. Nah, it’s only ¾ mile.

Yeah, it’s only ¾ mile from the sign down the road. I walked along the dusty trail. The only visitor on it at the time. Although remnants of horses dotted the path. I continued on in my sandals. After all, I’m the girl who wore flip-flops to the Grand Canyon.

I arrived at the first overlook and looked over the canyon.

I tried to go to the second overlook but saw this.

“Oh, c’mon,” I muttered.

Then I heard the rumble of thunder and looked up at some pretty dark clouds. Oh dear. I decided to head back to the car. Truth be told, I just didn’t want my phone to get wet. I walked pretty fast back to the car.

I decided to try and drive to the visitor’s center. It took two minutes. I walked around the trail close to the center and had the eerie feeling of familiarity but not quite remembering the details. I remembered being there before years ago and seeing the tree struck by lightning. But it was all rather fuzzy and not coming in clear.

I decided it would be real nice to be home. So, I climbed in my car and continued on my way. Nothing else exciting happened and arrived home in the afternoon. Just in time to take a nap before I headed over to my brother’s house for dinner.

It wasn’t a bad way to spend the Fourth. Maybe I’ll even make it a tradition?

My birthday road trip: day 7 (500 miles)

August 9: sad day.

KOA’s are not as comfortable as they used to be.  But I was tired enough I slept most of the night.  At about 3:00am I woke up with my body telling me, “I think you may need to use the restroom.”

I convinced it otherwise.  Since I would have to leave my cabin and walk across the road I became determined to not use the facilities.

“Okay,” my body said, “but don’t blame me if the results are disastrous.”

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My birthday road trip: day 6 (heading back)

August 8: Time to head back.  Unless I can make a living out of being a nomad.  No, don’t think so.  Have to head back today.

At the start of the week, I unwisely boasted I could visit 6 states in one week.  As of this morning, I had only collected 3 “Welcome to [insert state]” signs.  In order to meet my goal, I had to cross over into Kansas on the way out.

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