The little things that make me happy here on Bliss Road~~Emily Keaton

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Bryce Canyon National Park, UT (taken by our 8YO son)

If you think you haven’t heard from or seen much of me lately, you’d be right. I am pleased to report that we have just safely returned (late Monday night) from what my husband has been calling our MOAV (that is, Mother Of All Vacations). It could also be termed our “America the Beautiful Tour.”

"Park Avenue," Arches National Park, UT

As you might guess, this trip has been in the making for a while. You could say the idea for it started three years ago when my husband and I started mapping out the kinds of vacations we wanted to take with our kids before our oldest turns 18. We hoped to take the kids on a road trip to Disney World, which we did in 2009--along with stops at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. We thought that we’d like to start camping with the kids, which (after buying a small used pop-up tent trailer for the purpose) we did in 2010 with both a few local trips and a longer one to Michigan. We decided that if all that went well (and it did), we wanted to take the kids on a grand camping tour of the American West, visiting as many National Park Service sites as we could fit in.

Alpine Visitor Center, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park Campground, Redwood National and State Parks, CA

But the idea for this trip went back much, much further for me. When I was growing up, both of my parents were teachers who had the summers off. In 1978, they took my older sister and me on our first extended camping trip—out west for four weeks. Two years later in 1980, we went on an even longer trip, eight weeks camping out west on a loop path that took us to the Pacific Ocean. Finally, the summer after I graduated from high school in 1988, we took our last family camping trip, a six-week journey that followed the Rocky Mountains from the Mexican border all the way north into Canada. I suppose that ever since that first trip in 1978, I’ve always expected to take my own kids on a similar trip some day. This was a dream come true.

Our 2011 Vacation Route

So, some statistics:

Number of days away from home: 31 (originally we had planned for 30 days, but Hurricane Irene had other plans.)

Number of miles traveled: 8964

Number of photos taken: 4480 (amongst three cameras)

Number states traveled through: 19 (MA, NY, PA, OH, IN, IL, IA, NE, CO, UT, AZ, NV, CA, OR, ID, WY, MT, SD, MN)

Number of National Park Service sites visited: 24

in order of visitation:
Chimney Rock National Historic Site (NE)

Scotts Bluff National Monument (NE)
Rocky Mountain National Park (CO)
Colorado National Monument (CO)
Arches National Park (UT)
Bryce Canyon National Park (UT)
Zion National Park (UT)
Kings Canyon National Park (CA)
Sequoia National Park (CA)
Yosemite National Park (CA)
Redwood National and State Parks (CA)
Crater Lake National Park (OR)
Newberry Volcanic National Monument (OR)
Craters of the Moon National Monument (ID)
Grand Teton National Park (WY)
John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway (WY)
Yellowstone National Park (WY)
Bighorn National Forest (WY)
Devils Tower National Monument (WY)
Jewel Cave National Monument (SD)
Mount Rushmore National Memorial (SD)
Wind Cave National Park (SD)
Badlands National Park (SD)
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site (SD)

Hottest temperature seen: 111 degrees F (in the Mojave Desert in CA)

Coldest temperature seen: 38 degrees F (in Bryce Canyon City, UT)

Highest elevation: 12,183 feet above sea level in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Lowest elevation: 100 feet above sea level (here at home in Massachusetts)

Now, here's a peek at some of the sights we saw on our "America the Beautiful" tour:

O beautifulGrand Teton National Park, WY

for spacious skies,
Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area, NE (taken by our 8YO son)

For amber waves
Chimney Rock National Historic Site, NE

of grain,
Corn Palace, Mitchell, SD

For purple mountain majesties
Newberry Volcanic National Monument, OR

Above the fruited plain!
Grand Junction, CO, as seen from Colorado National Monument (taken by our 8YO son)

Bryce Canyon National Park, UT

Lower Yellowstone Falls as seen from the base of Uncle Tom's Trail,
Yellowstone National Park, WY

God shed His grace
Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD

on thee,
Alpine Visitor Center, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO (taken by our 12YO daughter)

And crown
Stout Grove, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, CA

thy good
Bison, Yellowstone National Park, WY

with brotherhood
Mud Volcano Basin, Yellowstone National Park, WY

From sea
Beach at Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center, Redwood National & State Parks, CA

to shining sea!
Sonoma Coast State Beach, CA

The post-trip laundry is all done now, but we're still working on unpacking and going through 31 days worth of mail. As soon as we get completely re-settled, I'm looking forward to getting back to creating again! And I also hope to find some time to visit your blogs. It's been too long! :)

Thanks so much for stopping by for my not-so-little slice of bliss that has been my summer. That's all for now!!