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!!


Marisa said...

Welcome home, Emily!!!! (((HUGS))). That was indeed the MOAV. Wow! Makes our 2300 mile trip to Alberta this summer look like an afternoon stroll LOL! Looks like you had a simply amazing time away and I hope you will be posting more pictures once you have had a chance to sort through them all. What a fabulous way to create family memories! I'm sure there was tons of geoteching along the way too :) Can't wait to hear more!

Erin (Homemade Cards by Erin) said...

Love this post, I have so many ideas of how I could assemble our MOAV from last year (2 1/2 months, 47 nights in a tent, 4911 miles, top to bottom of New Zealand), but, you know how life just goes on... so I applaud you for putting this together :) Can't wait to see what you do with a few of the photos. You came very close to my house, next time you'll have to pitch your pop up and come in for a crafting get together.

Joanne (jojot) said...


What a family treasure of memories!!

And....a true display of our beautiful country.

Thanks for sharing and.....


Glenda J said...

This is wonderful! Glad you had a good time and welcome home. Love the stats and the photos to go along with the anthem. Thanks for sharing!

Unknown said...

Welcome Home... I have been thinking abuout you every now and then I would wonder were you were on your journey.. I have been wondering if you made it down the Las Vegas Strip.. What an amazing journey.. One you and your family will never forget.. I just love seeing your photos.. Thanks so much for sharing..

Hugs, Linda

Carol Hurlock said...

Great to have you home Emily. It probably feels good to snuggle up in your own bed. This is such a beautiful write up and the pictures are so awesome. It make me feel so proud to be an American. There is so much to see in our gorgeous country. I am so happy and pleased you got to take your dream trip. It looks like it was amazing!

Bear Hugs,

Pam said...

I've missed you Emily! But what a fabulous trip! Oh my, my husband would be so jealous! I would love to see anything out west, and one day I'll get there! You have alot of scrapping to do with all those pictures! Glad to have you back!!

Sue T said...

Welcome home Emily, your pictures are Beutiful and hopefully someday my dh and I will be able to take a vacation like this.

Jessi Fogan said...

Welcome home, Emily! What an incredible gift you've given your kids. They will remember this summer forever.
I loved receiving your gorgeous thank-you card & note - and was *dying* to hear about how your trip went! I can't believe you've already finished the post-trip laundry - but are you ready for school to start yet? lol

momof5sons said...

Emily this is just beautiful! I don't think that there is anything more than a trip across the wonderful country that could make one more patriotic. Your lovely photo montage to the phrases of America the Beautiful demonstrates that exquisitely. I am so glad that your trip was wonderful as expected and that you all have those priceless MOAV memories. Also, I am grateful that you arrived home safely and mostly on schedule. Hugz and welcome home!

Colleen Dietrich said...

Fantastic, Emily! What a great post, summarizing your MOAV. ;) What a journey, and I thought of you so often throughout the month. I hope it was everything you'd hope it would be, and more. Your kids will NEVER forget this magnificent trip, and hopefully will be inspired to the same with their own families some day.

My fave pic you showed is of that giant redwood, looking up toward the heavens.

Welcome home! (Glad you missed the earthquake and Irene)

Benzi said...

What a trip, Emily! So many beautiful sights and the number of photos you said your took...Wow! I love those redwoods and would love to see them irl. Welcome home...look forward to seeing more.

Heather S. said...

Welcome home! I've thought of you often over the last few weeks. We've done several extended driving trips over the years but yours takes the prize! What a wonderful family experience! Several of your stops are familiar to us - others are on our list. So glad you had an awesome time!

Mary Marsh said...

welcome back emily it looks like you had fun on your vacation-how exciting to be able to tour america as you did

Mary Marsh said...

oh yes congrats on being the gdt on the denami design blog-looking forward to your projects

pam124 said...

Wow, Emily, that was the vacation of all vacation. I love your stats on everything and the photos are breathtaking. I can't even imagine having the opportunity to do something this special. Soo glad you are back!

Bonnie said...

What a wonderful travel log and family vacation! Glad you are home safely and look forward to your creations soon!

KAREN said...

Welcome home Emily. Your trip sounds fantastic. Also, you montage of photos set to America the Beautiful is priceless! We've missed you.

Emily (stampingout on SCS) said...

Welcome back, Emily! WOW! What an amazing trip you guys took. Thank you so much for sharing the photos and maps with us. I would love to do something like that with my boys someday. Those parks looked gorgeous. I am so glad you guys had a fun, safe, happy trip.



Susan Palmer said...

COOL! We are glad to have you back, welcome home-AWESOME trip!

Debbie Carriere said...

WOW, wow, wow! You are my idol!!! DH and I have grand plans to buy a pop up and travel when the kids are older!! Looks like you had a spectacular time and the photos are awesome! My husband (then boyfriend) and I did a very similar trip to this the summer we graduated from college, and we hit a lot of the same parks as you! Good for you and your kids will never forget this (as obviously you haven't). Glad to have you back :)

Crafty Math Chick said...

Oh my GOSH Emily! Now THAT is a VACATION! WOW! Thank you so much for sharing your incomparable cross country tour, complete with touching American tribute, with all of us - I know this post must have taken you a while to compose. I am glad you had a terrific time with your family, but you were missed. ;) We look forward to seeing all your creations when you have time to get back to them my friend!

Anita said...

What a fabulous vacation Emily! Thank you for sharing your wonderful memories with us. It's good to have you posting again.

andrea said...

Came to look at your posts to see the new guest designer on DeNami Design Blog...congrats! and loved your America the Beautiful photo presentation. My dad took us on several of these Great American trips and the memories are so precious. Looking forward to seeing your work this month!

Marlena M. said...

I thought it had been awhile since I saw awesome is this????!!!! What a blessing for your kids. Glad you made it home safe. ;)

Mona Pendleton said...

WOW Emily! What a wonderful post! Looks like you had a really great time traveling around the US! Stunning photos!

Audrey Hiltke said...

Wow Emily - what a trip!! Great to see/read all about it here - brings back memories from a trip I made 17 years ago to Bryce Canyon, Arches, Zion and some other Nat'l parks - with a young handsome man (now my DH!). These places look as beautiful now as they did back then. Thanks for sharing with us!

ChristineCreations said...

Emily this sounds absolutely wonderful! We've talked about how much we'd love to do something similar too. What a beautiful memory you've created for your children! And I just love your post too - love the pictures and the creativity of the song in with them. Have fun catching up at home :) It's such a big job!

Meg said...

WOW!! I had been wondering where your craftiness had gone to...and now I see you were just having the Most Awesome Summer Ever!!! Love looking at all your photos! I can't even imagine all the wonderful memories your family made on this trip!

Unknown said...

What an awesome post! I can't believe you were able to squeeze in all of those national parks, and saw so many states! Incredible!

Lisa Petrella said...

WOW, Emily! What an ADVENTURE!!!! Looks like you had an AMAZING trip full of wonderful memories that will last a lifetime!!!! Thanks for sharing your stories and gorgeous photos!!!