Archive for the 'Travel' Category

Spring Break in Tucson 2018

The last week of March was spent tooling around Tucson, Arizona! A great time was had by all. These are just a couple photos. When I get my act together, I may post more!


Tucson Hikers!


Crazy Driver! (It’s a good thing we have a few years before she gets her permit!) 😉

Meow Wolf

You’ve seen a couple posts about our visit to one of Santa Fe’s newest attractions: Meow Wolf, The House of Eternal Return. We had a fantastic visit! It’s an immersive art exhibit with a mystery woven through the stories & dimensions. It’s one of those places that is so hard to explain; you just have to see it. (And even seeing it won’t make you believe some of these things!) The interactive displays are designed to trick your eyes while expanding your mind, and we left wanting more.

The plan for our adventure was to leave Albuquerque (where we’d been to see the Balloon Fiesta), drive to Santa Fe and do a hike before lunch. We would do lunch and then pop over to Meow Wolf for a couple of hours before checking into our next hotel and relaxing in Santa Fe for the evening.

Well, we got to Meow Wolf, and discovered the line of people wrapping from out the doorway around the building!

So, we opted to take photos of the HUGE sculptures in the parking lot and then come back after dinner.

Our plan worked like a charm! Of course, because we had to come back, we only had two hours to explore and play. On one hand, it was enough. Our brains were overloaded and could barely process what we were seeing, hearing, and experiencing. But on the other hand, we could have spent at least two more hours there…and more! If it wasn’t 6 hours away, we’d have gone back this weekend!

From what I’ve researched, this exhibit is built into an old 34,000 sq. ft. bowling alley. Inside, there is a 2-story (maybe 3?) Victorian House. There are “portals” or secret entrances throughout the exhibit. Everything is interactive and either lights up, makes noise, or is more than meets the eye. There are no maps of the place. You’re set free to explore, at your own pace, in your own direction. It was busy when we were there, but rather than being a hindrance, watching others interact with the displays helped us stumble upon secrets we would have never discovered on our own. (The hardest part was remembering we were supposed to touch things!)

Here’s a shot of Claire and me looking for clues in the mailbox outside the Victorian house.

A magnifying kaleidoscope (searching for more clues)

When you check in, you’re given the option of purchasing ChromaDepth glasses. They make the colors and lights split and pop! You can experience Meow Wolf without these, but we HIGHLY recommend them for just that added oomph!

You can crawl through the fireplace! You find yourself INSIDE the fish tank in the living room! You can walk into/through the fridge! (I didn’t get photos of that, but some lady came up beside us when we were looking at the kitchen for clues, and watching her open the fridge door AND THEN STEP INSIDE AND CLOSE IT BEHIND HER was one of the most startling and hilarious things I’ve experienced.) You can take a tumble in the dryer!

You can walk through a hidden door! (One of MANY different types!)

One of Claire’s favorite parts was opening the space-age doors (in one of the dimensions). Be sure  your sound is turned up for the video. Click on the above photo to see the video or click here for the link. (It will open another page to view the video my Instagram account.)

In one of the hidden rooms, we discovered lasers piercing a theatrical-smoke filled room. We then discovered they were much more than a pretty display!

These lasers are also “strings” that can be played when your hand touches them! It’s ABSOLUTELY MAGICAL.


Needless to say, we’re smitten with Meow Wolf. These photos and blog posts are just a teeny tiny tip of the iceberg. We’re not even sure if we saw it all (and we’re pretty sure we didn’t.) We gathered some clues, but not enough to even come close to solving the mystery of what happened to the family that lived in the Victorian house. (But that’s okay! It’s so much more than the mystery.) When we make the trek back to Santa Fe in the future, we’re definitely immersing ourselves in another round of mind-blowing awesomeness.

**Why is it called Meow Wolf? As the story goes, those involved in the creation of it had everyone write down two random words on separate pieces of paper that were then put in a hat. One paper was pulled out of the hat: Meow. Another piece was chosen: Wolf. There you have it. 😉

Meow Wolf – A Tumble Thru the Dryer

One of the best parts of exploring Meow Wolf was stumbling upon regular ol’ everyday items that were transformed into mystical portals to another dimension. (What?? I told you it was hard to wrap your head around this place!!) Imagine our delight when we discovered that the dryer in the laundry room off the kitchen was more than meets the eye!

Let’s open the dryer to see if we can find any clues…

It’s a slide! What!? Claire goes first… Headfirst! (What??There’s no other way to really go into a dryer…)

There she goes!

If you look, you can see her feet!

She made it! (Dad took the picture from the cosmic side of the dryer…)

My turn! First, I sent my bag down the chute. (As one does. Duh.)

Here I go!

Don’t laugh too much at the astonished joy on my face. YOU try keeping your composure after going headfirst into a dryer!!!

I love how it looks like we’re being tumbled around in a dryer. Because we kinda were!


One of my favorite parts was when the the lady who went down before us yelled, “Hey! I found my sock!”  Hee hee!

Meow Wolf – The House of Eternal Return – Just a Taste

When we were in Santa Fe, we got to experience Meow Wolf, The House of Eternal Return. It’s an immersive modern art exhibit (for lack of a more precise description), and it’s ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. If it didn’t take 6-hours to get there, we’d go again tonight. NO JOKE. There’s a mystery to solve, and you spend hours there and not even know if you’ve seen it all. It’s so hard to explain, but when I can wrap my head around a bit more of it, I’ll do a more elaborate blog post. In the meantime, here’s a picture of Claire and I inside the fish tank in the living room of a Victorian house, and a larger picture of the “fish tank.” (No, really.) 😉

Our Florida Vacation

Normally we take a big trip in the summer, but this year, we opted to do that in January! I realized I didn’t have a chance to put that on the blog, so here it is! I love reliving trips, so this is perfect timing!

December 31, 2017
Off to Florida!
On New Year’s Eve, we hopped a plane bright and early (actually, it was BEFORE the sun peeked above the horizon, so “bright” may not be the best descriptor!) and headed to FLORIDA! We landed in Orlando and played at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort. (It was a destination in and of itself. We loved the lazy river going through the property. If you’re feeling adventurous, you should ask my husband about how easy it is to “just drive around and see the town” from there. Answer: You can’t. Sorry. You’re either dumped into Universal Studios or back onto an Interstate that leads you away.) BUT, because we were “on property,” we got early admission into Harry Potter World the next day, which is an absolute MUST if you ever go there.

That night, our resort hotel threw a New Year’s Eve Party! (You may or may not be able to tell how exhausted we are in this photo! We’ve been up a LONG time!)

New Year’s Day 2017
Harry Potter World at Universal Studios
We spent the entire day at Harry Potter World. We arrived before the sunrise (I’m sensing a theme here!) and left just as the park was closing. We did take a siesta back at the hotel room for an hour or so before ending the evening. To say it was “magical” wouldn’t do it justice. If you like the world of Harry Potter at all, you need to go. (And I don’t say that about amusement parks.) It was absolutely fantastic. The attention to detail was incredible.

As you’ll see in the photos, Claire went as Luna Lovegood, one of her favorite characters in the Harry Potter series. (She went as Luna for Halloween, and she’d constructed and collected various pieces of the costume for months in preparation to that! It was great that she got to use it again!) Seeing how everyone there reacted so positively to her was heart-warming. That moment when you get to see your child completely in her element made my heart smile.

Claire as Luna

Luna and the Train

Hogsmeade at Dawn (literally)

Claire and I stepping through the brick wall 9 3/4. (I love the trick of the mirrors and glass, and I’m glad Dad got a picture for us!)

The Dragon on Gringott’s Bank is amazing!

Guess what!? It periodically BREATHES FIRE!! It scared us half to death, but from that moment on, I was adamant about getting a picture of it at night!


…so I did! *swoon* (Yes, you can feel the heat from it!)

January 2nd
Kennedy Space Center
That morning, we drove to Kennedy Space Center and spent the entire day there. It was amazing! We want to go back! (When we go back, we could spend another whole day there and see completely different things. There’s no way to see it all in a day!)


JoAnn doing the Space Station Crawl

Pano at NASA

January 3rd
Beach Day!
Indialantic Beach/Melbourne
My husband has been to this area for work and told me I’d love it. He was right! It wasn’t crowded, and the miles and miles (and miles!) of beaches were amazing!

If you look in the reflection of her sunglasses, you can see me lounging, too. (We heard it was snowing at home when we were taking these pictures. Bliss!)


Beach Run

Sunset from our balcony in Indialantic

January 4th
Marathon Key (roughly half-way to Key West)
Today’s adventure was to explore the first half of the Florida Keys. I’d arranged to stay at Marathon Key, which is roughly halfway down the Florida Keys. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and it was quite the adventure! They were more civilized than I’d imagined islands cut off from the mainland, attached only by an Overseas Highway to be.

We did send this picture to one of Claire’s aunts (who happens to LOVE this brand…), just to let her know how far from civilization we were going to be!

January 5th
Key West
Today, we ventured the rest of the way to Key West (and back at night). We had fun there, but it was a little too touristy for our liking. (Yes, I realize the irony of that statement.) That said, we had a great time, and I’m glad we went! On the way out of town, we ended up sitting for a LONG time while they cleaned up a traffic accident. (I was aware this could happen, as you’ll see below…)

We stopped along the way to stroll along the pedestrian bridge…

…but could only go so far.

Excuse me, sir. I believe Florida is a hands-free banana-phone zone.

Climbing the Tower in Key West

We made it!

Pano from the Tower in Key West

We explored some gardens. These doorway roots were neat!

We were some of the last to leave Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, so we helped take the flag down for sunset! It was quite an honor.

Watching the sunset

Photo of the Photographer

I always thought the sun was bigger than this.

Key West Sunset

We tried to touch the monument at the southernmost point, but the line wrapped around for blocks! The wait was over an hour! (People said they’d been waiting 3 hours!) What!? I don’t think so. So, here we are the Southernmost Point…Kinda. (This was taken from our hotel in Fort Lauderdale.)

January 6th
Fort Lauderdale
Because we were staying in the Florida Keys, and the only way back to the mainland by car is via the Overseas Highway, I didn’t want to risk missing our flights due to unforeseen issues there. I found the perfect solution: book a stay at a hotel in Fort Lauderdale near the airport (and beach!) and then we wouldn’t be rushed.

Little did I know that tragedy would strike. Just as we were arriving Fort Lauderdale and nearing our hotel, rescue personnel and law enforcement vehicles were zipping around us. We didn’t think too much of it, because we were back “in the big city” now. We check into the hotel resort, and our rooms aren’t quite ready yet. They told us where the poolside restaurant was, and we were welcome to swim and eat and they’d text me when our room was ready (pretty standard). As we were waiting for our food, all the TVs in the bar area flipped to coverage of the shooting at the baggage claim in the Fort Lauderdale Airport. The people at the table next to us and left that area just 20-minutes prior. Goose-bumps!

I started texting/calling people back home to let them know that we were okay, and that we were close to this, but were not scheduled to be at the airport until tomorrow.

Because of this tragedy, the airport was closed, as were many of the streets near our hotel. The good news is we were planning on beaching and exploring on foot, so we didn’t have to worry about getting trapped with the car.

After some fancy footwork with the airlines, hotels, and car rental place (not to mention things at home that needed to be delayed), we were booked on a flight out of Orlando in a couple of days. (The earliest flight out of Fort Lauderdale wasn’t for another WEEK. We love Florida, but that wasn’t going to work! We had a couple days of wiggle room before Claire started school again, but not that long!) The Southwest agent I was working with said there were three spots left on a flight out of Orlando on Sunday. I had her book them before even giving me the details.

This was a sobering end to our fantastic week. The silver lining is we weren’t in harm’s way, and we got an extra beach day the next morning because of it.

We got to eat at Bubba Gump’s!

We had fun with the Big Beach Chair on the beach at night.

January 7th
Bonus Day in Florida!
There were a lot of moving pieces to organize, but we did it. Today was filled with a bonus walk on the beach in Fort Lauderdale before we drove the three hours back up to Orlando (where we were luckily able to get a room near the airport).

I have a funny memory of checking in to that hotel. It’s a chain my husband uses a lot for business travel, so we always get treated really well there. As we’re checking in, we’re chatting with the lady at the counter and tell her about our extended stay and additional road trip. She gets back down to business and says, “Okay, I’ve got you in one room for two nights…” I gasped out loud. “WHAT!? Do you know something we don’t know!? Our flights are for tomorrow!” She looks down at her computer and she gets a sly smile and says, “Didn’t they tell you that your flight was changed again?” …and then she adds, “JUST KIDDING. I meant I’ve got you in a room with TWO BEDS for ONE NIGHT. I had you goin’ there, didn’t I?”

It felt good to laugh.

Morning Hike on the Beach

Extra Beach Day? Don’t mind if we do…

January 8th
We were a day late and at a different airport, but we made it.
Our new adjusted flight left at the crack of dawn, and we were exhausted, but we refused to let that ruin the memories of our vacation. We were fortunate and had such a fantastic time in Florida!

Spring Break in Tucson!

Every year, we’ve wanted to walk thru The Rattlesnake pedestrian bridge in Tucson. Finally, mission accomplished!

Pool time!

Kartchner Caverns

One of many hikes

We’ve never seen so many arms on a single saguaro before!

Ocotillo in bloom

Gorgeous yellow blooms

Meep Meep!

Florida Vacation!

We spent part of our Winter Break in Florida! (But I didn’t write about it until June.)

Check out the link here!

Our Trip to British Columbia & the Pacific Northwest – Part 7: Temperate Rainforest & Seattle

From Kalaloch Lodge, we headed to Seattle via the Olympic National Park. One of the things we wanted to do on this trip was hike in a temperate rainforest.

We were able to stop by Lake Quinalt and do just that! (Be sure to click the images to see more detail.)

I used the panorama setting to capture this tree. The drapes of moss were impressive!

I used the panorama setting to capture this tree. The drapes of moss were impressive!

Mossy Tree

Temperate Rainforest

Mossy Maple Bottom

Mossy Maple Top

Some of the trees were hard to identify by their trunks, because they were just completely covered in moss. We were startled by one tree (above) when we saw it was a MAPLE. What? How crazy is that??

The other thing that was just completely mind-boggling was the fact that there were NO BUGS. What? You can go hiking in a rainforest and not be carried away or eaten alive?? Unbelievable! (But true!)

The above photos do not do this temperate rainforest justice. It was an amazingly magical place!

After our hike, we headed on into Seattle. This time, our hotel was close to the Space Needle. We discovered that our room was on the other side of the building from the Space Needle, but we still had a view of it!

See the Space Needle in the Reflection?

See the Space Needle in the Reflection?

Sunset Reflection of the Space Needle

Sunset Reflection of the Space Needle

Reflection of the Space Needle at Night

Reflection of the Space Needle at Night

You get the picture (or three), but here it is again!

Space Needle

The next day, we met a friend who lives in the area and we went to explore things we’d not had a chance to the last time we were in Seattle.

Olympic Sculpture Park

Olympic Sculpture Park

Pike's Market! (I LOVE the funny restroom sign!!)

Pike’s Market! (I LOVE the funny restroom sign!!)

And just like that, it was time to head home. When we travel, we pack efficiently. No one believes us, but here’s our luggage. All three of us share the big red bag. The two backpacks are carry-ons, as is my red bag. We also brought along two tote bags that fold up into tiny pouches, but we didn’t even need them! Yeah!

How to Pack Light

Another trick? We have a luggage scale. That big red suitcase is 48.5 lbs on the nose, baby! (We try to leave some wiggle room when dealing with the 50 lb weight limit.)

We had such an amazing trip. These photos are just the tip of the ice-berg, and these memories will last a lifetime.

Just catching up? Check out Part 1: Vancouver, Part 2: Goats on a roof & Port RenfrewPart 3: Random Dragons and a lighthousePart 4: Deuce Days in VictoriaPart 5: Victoria, and Part 6: Finding Sasquatch & Kalaloch Lodge!

Our Trip to British Columbia & the Pacific Northwest – Part 6: Finding Sasquatch & Kalaloch Lodge

On that Tuesday, we headed for the ferry. As luck would have it, our hotel was RIGHT BY the ferry dock, so getting there wasn’t even an issue. (It was good we were close, because we needed to be there 90-minutes ahead, per regulations.) We had reservations, and everything went without a hitch.

While we were waiting, Claire yells, “SASQUATCH! I found Sasquatch! There’s a Sasquatch ON OUR CAR!”


Okay, let me back up.

We’d told Claire this trip was to explore British Columbia, see the grandparents at the car show, explore the Olympic Coast, and… FIND SASQUATCH. Everywhere we’d hiked would have been PERFECT for Sasquatch, and we’d point that out…every time, but we’d not found him yet.

…until now.

She was adamant, and we were confused. “On OUR car? You mean THIS car, or someone has a Subaru?” I asked, looking at the cars in line behind us. “No! OUR car. THIS car! The Jeep!” she said.

When she pointed it out, we couldn’t believe it.

(As always, click photos to enlarge!)



SASQUATCH HAD BEEN FOLLOWING US THE WHOLE WAY! Literally. Jeep had painted this on the inside of the back window, right above the windshield wiper. What?? How clever and cool! (You couldn’t see it from the outside because of the tinted windows, and you really had to be looking right at it to notice it!)

Well played, Jeep. Well played!
(This didn’t meant we actually stopped looking for ANOTHER Sasquatch…)

While on the ferry, we saw ORCAS! Yes! This is the first time we’ve seen whales, and to say we were extremely excited about this is putting it mildly! We saw five spouts from the blowholes and two tails. Wow! What a treat!!

From Port Angeles, we made our way to the Olympic Coast. Again, we were greeted with fantastic views and scenery. This area is so lush! It was sunny again (still), so I’m thinking those tall tales about it being gloomy all the time are just a way to keep people from moving there! 😉

Kalaloch Lodge was our next stop on the itinerary. At check-in, I found out I’d been pronouncing this wrong in my head. (I’d been saying “Calla-lock,” when, in fact, it’s pronounced “Clay-lock.” Good to know!

This lodge has no TVs or phones in the room, and there is no Wi-Fi. We’d been unplugged from Social Media this entire trip, so that didn’t bother me. My phone had just enough oomph in some places to send quick texts, so I told one of my sisters to pull up the Kalaloch Lodge Webcam.

I told her we’d be down in that area and to see if she could see us on the monitor.

Sure enough! She was able to capture us! (The screen refreshes every 30 seconds, so these were fun to see!) If you look, you can see us. We’re the group of three exploring on this side of that huge log.

Kalaloch Webcam Pic 1

Kalaloch Webcam Pic 1

Kalaloch Webcam Pic 2

Kalaloch Webcam Pic 2

Kalaloch Webcam Pic 3

Kalaloch Webcam Pic 3

What may be hard to see in these photos is that it’s NOT gloomy there! There is sun and blue skies. (You can *almost* see it in the reflection on the water in one of the pictures.)

Mom and Claire Kalaloch Lodge

After dinner and a good night’s rest, we set out to explore some more!

Kalaloch Lodge Gazebo

Kalaloch Lodge Gazebo

Rope Assist - Unlike most of the other beaches and trails we'd explored, this one had a nice Rope Assit! This was very handy in making it down (and up!) to (and from!) the "real" steps!

Rope Assist – Unlike most of the other beaches and trails we’d explored, this one had a nice Rope Assist! This was very handy in making it down (and up!) to (and from!) the “real” steps!

The beach at Kalaloch Lodge

The beach at Kalaloch Lodge

The sand was HOT and the water was COLD, so that created a magical MIST that was just mesmerizing! You can see the sunny blue skies peeking through!

The sand was HOT and the water was COLD, so that created a magical MIST that was just mesmerizing! You can see the sunny blue skies peeking through!

More Mist

More Mist

Mist and Waves

Mist and Waves

The Low Tide revealed Rocks!

The Low Tide revealed Rocks!

This is called the "Tree House." All that's left for the ceiling are roots!

This is called the “Tree House.” All that’s left for the ceiling are roots!

All along the shore are Driftwood Forts.

All along the shore are Driftwood Forts.

This picture makes me smile! Hair tied up? Check. Three layers, flip-flops, and pants rolled up? Check. Sand dollars safe in hand? Check. Ready for the picture? Nope.

Sand dollars? Yes! We had so much fun looking for (relatively) intact Sand Dollars! We found some!

Sand dollars? Yes! We had so much fun looking for (relatively) intact Sand Dollars! We found some! (We didn’t find them on the driftwood…that would have been way too easy!)

Castle Builders hard at work

Castle Builders hard at work

Sunset on another beautiful day.

Sunset on another beautiful day.

That next morning, Claire told me Puppy had asked so politely to look outside, so she set up the pillows for him.

That next morning, Claire told me Puppy had asked so politely to look outside, so she set up the pillows for him.

Next stop? Hiking through a temperate rainforest and exploring Seattle!

Stay tuned!

Just catching up? Check out Part 1: Vancouver, Part 2: Goats on a roof & Port RenfrewPart 3: Random Dragons and a lighthousePart 4: Deuce Days in Victoria, and Part 5: Victoria!

Our Trip to British Columbia & the Pacific Northwest – Part 5: Victoria

After Deuce Days, we spent the evening exploring Victoria.

Water Taxis in a Row

Water Taxis in a Row

The view of Victoria from the water taxi was neat!

The view of Victoria from the water taxi was neat!

By Fisherman's Wharf, there is a community of 33 quirky houseboats.

By Fisherman’s Wharf, there is a community of 33 quirky houseboats.

We found a playground with a view of the harbor!

We found a playground with a view of the harbor!

We spent the next morning with the grandparents, killing time before they took off on the ferry back to the US. We found a fun vendor by the harbor, and Claire found a neat cat hat!

Cat Hat

Claire in a Cat Hat

After lunch, we went exploring along the coast, and we did some letterboxing.

Look what ELSE we found in a cemetery!?

Look what ELSE we found in a cemetery!?

Craigdarroch Castle

Craigdarroch Castle

Willow Beach

Willow Beach

Beach Geese?

The Beach Geese cracked us up!

Beautiful hanging flowers

Beautiful hanging flowers

I couldn't stop taking photos of all the flowers! I think I'll do a whole post on just the flowers...

I couldn’t stop taking photos of all the flowers! I think I’d have enough to do a whole website on just the flowers!

Stay tuned for more!

Just catching up? Check out Part 1: Vancouver, Part 2: Goats on a roof & Port RenfrewPart 3: Random Dragons and a lighthouse, and Part 4: Deuce Days in Victoria!