Day 8 of our 21 day adventure

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We’re up early today and already making our way through a dozen different casinos. It’s only about 10:00 a.m. and I’m already exhausted from all of the walking that we’ve done. The slot machines seem to be all tuckered out from the brood of people that have flocked here for the Fourth of July weekend. I haven’t been very lucky today and feel like I may as well just be throwing my money at the wind.

IMG_0739As the day stretches on, we finally make our way to Caesars Palace, which is one of my favorite places in Vegas. The Forum Shops call to me, I have been waiting in eager anticipation to come back to this place. Our favorite deli is here; and  amidst the commotion, I look fervently to find it. My mouth waters as we search for the place that can offer up the best corned beef sandwich that I have ever laid eyes upon. My stomach is making strange noises now, longing for the six inch high sandwich that it hasn’t seen for the last decade. Unfortunately, after searching through the shops one by one, Brian and I soon discover that the deli is gone for good. Our favorite place to eat is now just a mere memory.

IMG_0740We decide to continue on, hopeful that we will find another place that is just as good, but unfortunately we end up having to settle for a quick snack and then off we go again to observe the free shows, erupting every few hours as we continue to walk along. The ceiling changes throughout the day and I am charmed by its effects. This place has such a magical feel to it and leaves me wanting more. The downside is, that the shops remind me of Beverly Hills, and so I don’t even want to walk into most of them. I fear the clerks may ask me if they can help me; in which I know that my reply would most likely be, “Yes, as a matter of fact you can! You can help me right out this store, because I am poor and just spent most of my money at your pilfering casino!” So instead, I continue on…

IMG_0746We finally make our way outside, and I immediately spot a couple of beaten down war veterans. One looks completely stoned out of his mind and the other keeps telling people that he just wants a shower and a nice warm bed like everyone else. The two of them make quite the pair and I wonder how they ended up here. Curiosity and pity for the two of them gets the better of me and I decide to walk back and strike up a conversation. I put a $5 bill in their can, which hardly seems like enough. Here’s somebody that obviously fought for our country and now nobody is fighting for them. With tears welling up, I begin to ask the coherent one, some questions. I can feel Brian’s eyes from off in the distance, probably wondering if I have gone out of my mind. The man that I begin speaking to, is friendly and tells me about his past. I can tell he is just as hungry for conversation, as he is for food.  After we briefly talk and I turn to go, he grabs my hand, kisses it, and says, “May God bless you.” A part of me wants to run and wash my hand in a gallon of bleach and the other half of me wants to reach down and hug this man to pieces! Instead, a tear slips down my face and I turn to go, knowing that most people around me will probably never even give this man a second thought. It breaks my heart, but what more can I do. I say a silent prayer for the two men and move on.

IMG_0747Brian is waiting for me over by the curb, giving me a confused look. I don’t say anything to him about what just happened and we continue walking down the strip. We have another show to see tonight; Le Reve, which is over at the Wynn and we slowly make our way over there, one casino at a time. I am quite tired after all of the walking that we have done today and when we finally reach the Wynn, I am hopeful that we will be able to sit down and wait for the show to start. Unfortunately there are no seats to sit upon and instead, we end up standing in line until finally the ushers show us to our seats.

IMG_0750The ambiance of the room immediately fills me with excitement. The room is dimly lit and there is a vivid display of colorful fabric hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the circular stage. The billowy fabric draws me in and leaves me in an almost trance like state. It doesn’t take long before the show begins and in an instant, the long clusters of fabric are yanked up into a mysterious black hole. After they disappear, dozens of acrobats make their way down from the same black hole. The acrobats land on the stage, which is now completely covered in water. They deliver quite a show as they dive and traverse the colorful waters. It is a spectacular scene and the costumes and settings remind me of the movie Avatar. It’s a shame when the show has to end and I am thoroughly worn out from the excitement of everything. Day 8 was surely a day that I won’t soon forget and I am really looking forward to tomorrow.

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Another adventure…

Photo Credit: northlandadventurer.com
Photo Credit: northlandadventurer.com

I am currently away exploring once more.  This time I am visiting Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands.  I am hoping to see the Perseid meteor shower and maybe some northern lights.  I will continue my posts when I return in a few days.  Until then… I will miss all of you!  Have a wonderful week and if you live in a climate like mine, don’t forget to enjoy the warm weather days while you can!  😉

Day 4 of our 21 day adventure

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After three days of exploring our country from dawn until dusk, today we are taking it easy. It’s 11:00 a.m. and we just finished eating breakfast here at the Sleep Inn, in Idaho Falls. We only have a four-hour drive today, with our final destination being Orem, UT. We are excited to make our way to Orem, which is just outside of Salt Lake City. We are planning to stay in Orem for a couple of days so that we can get a good feel for what the area is like. I am hopeful that this may be another place that we can add to our list of possible places to move to.

IMG_0534 copy for WPUnfortunately, the drive to Orem, is leaving me a little bit disappointed. The traffic reminds me of big city living and It’s hard to navigate through the streets due to the high level of traffic on the roads. Thankfully, it doesn’t take us long to make it to our hotel. The unfortunate part is, our hotel is being completely renovated both inside and out. The ruts in the street are so deep, that driving through them is difficult. When we enter the hotel, the lobby is completely torn apart and the hustle and bustle of construction is happening all around us. We are quickly regretting our decision to stay here for two days, but are trying to stay positive. After attempting to check-in an hour early, we are told that we will have to wait.

IMG_0552 copy for WPWe decide to head out and explore the area while we wait. I remember reading about a place called Bridal Veil Falls and so we decide to see if we can find it. After about 20 minutes of driving, we have made our way to the entrance that leads to the falls. A bike trail weaves its way around the base of the hills and we walk along the bike path, taking in the beauty of the trees and listening to the rushing waters of a creek that flows alongside the trial. It’s nice to be out of the city traffic and away from the construction work, but the temperature is over 100 degrees and quickly zapping the energy right out of me. The walk is easy though and it doesn’t take us long to find the base of the falls.

IMG_0546 copy for WPThere are quite a few people here and some are actually trying to hike all the way up to the top of the falls with small children. I have to admit, it’s making me a bit nervous watching the hikers climb their way to the top. There isn’t a path leading up to the top of the falls and the terrain is extremely rocky and steep. The falls are beautiful, but it is definitely not tranquil here. There are about 100 people trying to cram into the water that is accumulating at the base of the falls. It doesn’t take long for me to feel overwhelmed by the heat of the day and the crowds of people, so we head back after a taking a short walk past the falls.

Photo Credit:  www.byubites.com
Photo Credit: http://www.byubites.com

The traffic is even worse on our way back to the hotel, and after checking in, we decide that we need to plan something different for tomorrow. After talking it over, we agree to head to Las Vegas a day early and we decide to make reservations at the Luxor hotel. After making reservations and cancelling our extra day in Orem, we head out to find a place to eat dinner. After driving around for a while, we finally settle on Smash Burger. Their food is okay, but not something to write home about. After finishing up dinner, we head over to the local mall which is located within a mile of our hotel. After perusing the shops, we decide to head back to the hotel to watch a movie. Today wasn’t the most memorable day, but we are certainly looking forward to tomorrow and excited for the days ahead.

Day 3 of our 21 day adventure

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The alarm goes off, it’s 4:00 a.m. I am eager to start another day and so is Brian. After getting ready and packing the car, we head to the front desk to check-out. The staff is friendly here at the Comfort Inn and they offer to serve us breakfast early. It’s only 5:00 a.m. and my stomach doesn’t quite feel like it’s ready for food yet. But how can I really pass up a free meal? We sit quietly in the dining room; eating and catching a quick news update from the small television over in the far corner.

It’s 5:15 a.m. now, and our final destination of the day is Idaho Falls. The first thing we do is stop for gas and pray for safe travels as we begin our twelve-hour journey. Before long, we pass through Cody, WY. This is the city that I had originally wanted to stay in and I notice the Buffalo Bill Museum is located up ahead. I consider stopping at the museum, but I know that we already have so much planned for today. I shake the idea out of my mind and continue on. As we near Big Horn National Forest, we come across the city of Sheridan. The view of the mountains from here is unbelievable and I wonder what living here would be like. Just as we reach the base of the mountain, we find ourselves in a small town called Dayton. I begin to file away these places in the back of my mind as potential retirement communities for when we are eventually old and grey.

IMG_0318 copy for WPAs we head up the mountain pass, the towns below become mere specks off in the far distance. It feels like we are the only people who exist on the earth right now. The view is breathtaking from up here and we stop several times to get out and take pictures. I am mesmerized by the tranquility and the views of the valley below. I don’t understand why the mountain is so void of people and I wonder if it’s like this all the time. We wind our way along the tree-lined mountain pass. The pine forest completely covers the landscape for as far as the eye can see. I have never seen so many perfect looking trees in one place before; the colors are bright and vivid, and each one is like a delicate piece of artwork created by a master artist.

IMG_0345 copy for WPAs we near a bend in the road, we start to see the beginning of a lake coming into view. We notice signs for a picnic area and decide to pull over and take a look around. The climb up to the lake area is easily accessible, and when we reach the top, we are thrilled to find that we have the entire lake to ourselves. The lake is completely still and eerily quiet, except for an occasional fish releasing ringlets on the surface of the water. The tranquility of this place reminds me of what I imagine heaven will be like. A soft breeze blows gently across the water and gives me goosebumps. I sense the presence of God all around us; it’s surreal and indescribable the way that this place is making me feel right now. I am tempted to ask Brian if we should renew our vows here. We have been planning to renew our vows somewhere along the way, and it seems like there could be no better place on earth. Something holds me back though and I remain silent, lingering in deep thought. The enchantment is soon broken though, and I remember that we still have so many more places on our agenda. Grudgingly, we walk back to the car and say goodbye to one of the most beautiful places on the face of the earth. We vow to come back someday, perhaps eventually to live out the rest of our days.

IMG_0369 copy for WPAfter driving a little farther down the road, we are now at a place called “Shell Falls.” I can hear the roar of the falls up ahead and run to get a better look. I am now standing in front of the 120 ft. high falls. The water is hitting the granite rocks in the bottom with such force, that the water is spraying back up into the air, forming rainbows in the streaming sun-rays. I didn’t think that anything could compare to the beauty of what we had just seen by the lake, but now I am not so sure. We look around and notice some short hiking trials and decide to explore even more. After taking a million photographs, we head back to the car to continue on our journey.  About an hour has passed and we decide to stop at a visitor center. IMG_0414 copy for WPIt feels good to stretch our legs after our long journey and we walk up to a large dam that overlooks a beautiful lake. After a short tour through the visitor center, we are on our way once more. Shortly after, we drive past a strange looking house, overlooking the road from the top of a hill. IMG_0426 copy for WPThe house looks abandoned and Brian decides to take some pictures. The house leaves us wondering about the history behind it.

After several hours of driving, we are finally nearing Yellowstone National Park. A restaurant up ahead seems inviting and we stop for lunch. After relaxing in the lodge style atmosphere and then perusing the gift shop after a hearty meal, we finally make it to the entrance of Yellowstone National Park. I am excited because I have been here before, and I begin to reminisce about vacationing here with the girls when they were little. As soon as we head through the gates though, I realize that I am not seeing what I remember. Apparently Mother Nature has played a cruel trick on us. Wildfires have completely ruined the spectacular views that once graced this magnificent place. I am shaken by the devastation that is rapidly unfolding all around us. The farther we drive, the worse it gets, and I wonder if the park will ever be able to recover the beauty that was once here. After reveling in such beauty and splendor earlier today and comparing it to what I am seeing now, I am in disbelief and wishing that we hadn’t come here. I am suddenly reminded of a graveyard and sadness begins to overtake me. We keep hoping that around the next bend, we will see some sign of beauty that hasn’t been lost, but unfortunately, that isn’t what we find. IMG_0435 copy for WPAfter driving around for a couple of hours, searching for a part of the forest that isn’t scorched, we find a hiking trail near the lake and decide to stop and explore on foot. Unfortunately, we are greeted with a warning sign that bears are in the area and so the trail has been closed. IMG_0443 copy for WPAfter getting back in the car, we decide to drive a little bit further to see if there is anywhere else we might want to explore. After a little while longer, it becomes apparent that the devastation is never-ending and we decide to head out toward the Grand Tetons.

As we continue on, the Grand Tetons come into view and I am relieved that these mountains are still as beautiful as I remember. Along the way, we find a stopping point near a lake and hike up above a small beach to get a better view. IMG_0505 copy for WPThe mountains look hazy in the background, because of the humidity. People are laughing and having a good time; some are standing over by a small dam, taking pictures and playing in the water. Then there are a few people down below on the beach, playing in the sand. We have found our own little spot, up and out of the way, but I still find myself wishing that we were alone again, like we were this morning at the lake. It has been such a long day and the hours of driving are starting to wear on us.

We head out for the last time today; making our way to Idaho Falls where we will stay for the night. After getting a bit turned around, we finally find our way to the hotel and are pleasantly surprised to find that they are offering us a free dinner. We only have about an hour before dinner ends, so we quickly unpack the car and head down to the dining room for dinner. Soup and salad are what is being offered and I am glad that I am not very hungry, since the food on the buffet is almost gone. After such a long day, we talk about the things we have seen so far and the places we’ve been. We’ve had enough memories already to last us a lifetime.

Field Trip to Old World Wisconsin

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IMG_0051My family and I recently visited Old World Wisconsin, which is located in Eagle, Wisconsin. IMG_0054  It just happened to be the first day that we hadn’t had rain in weeks, and the weather was perfect!

When we first arrived, we were ushered to the gift shop to pay the entrance fee and receive our map.  Then we proceeded to the tram which took us to our desired location. IMG_0012                                                       Old World Wisconsin consists of many historical buildings that are situated on 600 acres.  The historical site is broken down into different ethnic farms and villages.

The first stop we made was to the German and Polish farms. IMG_0013  We had fun spinning flax into thread.  We also took a tour of the woodworking shop, where we got to use some woodworking tools which were originally used in the 1800’s. IMG_0039

After that, we made our way back to the tram and headed over to the Clausing Barn Café; where we enjoyed an all-American meal of hamburgers, chicken strips, brats, and grilled cheese sandwiches. IMG_0090

After we finished our meal we decided to walk to the 1880’s Yankee village and proceeded to explore the town. IMG_0106  We learned how to wash laundry on an old washboard.

We visited the blacksmith to learn how to make horseshoes.  We even shopped in the general store, where we bought Earl Gray tea, a hand-made wooden fan, and a small chalkboard. IMG_0147

Finally, we decided that it was getting late and we knew that the site closed at 5 p.m.; so we walked over to the Caldwell Farmers Club Hall to play some last-minute games; and peddle a reproduction tricycle around a small track.  On our way out, we headed back to the gift shop and bought some beverages for the road.  IMG_0161We had such a fun day, and we look forward to going back again soon.   We only visited about half of the villages before we had to go, so we are looking forward to another trip back soon to see the remainder of what we missed.

To get more information about Old World Wisconsin, go here.