Friday, October 14, 2011

The Souvenirs

I wanted to write a quick post to show you my new 'proud'. 
I finally framed all of our souvenir Pressed Pennies. I love it!

Each of the girls also has a frame they use to collect their pins. 

And here is an update on our Map of the U.S.A. We are getting there ... 19 states done!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Day Twelve | The End to Another Journey ... Flights, Delays, First Class and Rae Ann the Hero

I'm home and just finishing up the endless pile of laundry (would have been done, but a pen got stuck in one of the loads - yikes - need to rewash it). I wanted to write one more entry to finish off our fabulous trip. We flew out of Victoria, B.C. on a smaller plane, which was fun for the girls. Despite the fact it was only a 22 minute flight, Annelies insisted on taking out her iPad for the short duration!
Our flight from Seattle to Minneapolis was delayed two hours, so we had dinner at Chile's and all got in some screen time.
Scott upgraded to First Class (love that Delta Gold status), so the girls agreed Paradis would sit up front the first half.
Little did we know the flight would get so exciting ... about 30 minutes in, while geared up to knit and watch Soul Surfer, I heard an announcement, "Anyone with Medical Expertise please come to the front of the plane." Now those that know me well agree I have a nursing degree, and even a license, but expertise is a strong word for my medical confidence as I haven't practiced in over 20 years. I cautiously watched as NO ONE went forward ... suddenly I found myself helping a seizing woman. I do have to admit that my instincts kicked in and I found myself assessing the situation pretty well (OK, better than a lay person, but I'm confident not better than someone with recent experience!). I was able to take a pulse, measure her blood pressure, and do a glucose reading (she was diabetic)! Pretty good, huh?

However, my anxiety wasn't in helping the woman in need, it was trying to answer the flight attendants that kept asking me, "Do we have to divert the plane?", "The pilot needs an answer, should we divert and land the plane?" What stress! What was I to do?

Once the woman stopped seizing and I felt she was stable, I went and talked with the pilot (through a phone of course). We both agreed a diversion wasn't necessary, but I found myself saying to myself, "Who am I to make that decision? I don't know jack!"

After that I was queen of the plane. Annelies and I moved up to first class (because during the chaos Paradis and Annelies forgot to switch), were given dinner, and a voucher for a future flight. After the flight passengers were thanking me for helping the lady and not having to divert the plane. I'm thinking this hero thing isn't a bad deal after all ...

Thanks for following us on our journey out West. We are planning to travel again Spring Break of 2012 and Summer of 2012. As of now, we aren't quite sure where we will go; I will be working on that within the next couple months.

Happy travels everyone ...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Day Eleven | Packing Challenge, DS: The Universal Language, PRIDE parade, a long nap and Final Evaluation

We usually travel light with two suitcases and one carry-on each. This trip was an exception. With ten days on the road, traveling nearly 3,000 miles, hiking many of them and covering temperatures from 45 to 87 degrees we needed to expand our normal gear. Last night Scott worked a miracle and packed us up; we threw away a huge bag of garbage (which included my loved -broken- tripod that gives me all those great group shots) ...

We hopped on a ferry and traveled to beautiful Victoria British Columbia. Almost immediately Annelies noticed a girl playing DS and she asked her to play together. The girl didn't speak a stitch of English yet Annelies and her spent the entire 2 1/2 hours playing together. DS: The Universal Language. I love that about my kids ... they are capable of making friends even overcoming language barriers.
We arrived in Victoria Canada, got another stamp in our passport books, and headed to our hotel. Victoria is a lovely harbor town and the weather was fabulous. As we walked along the shore we noticed a parade and quickly realized it was a PRIDE parade, which was fun to observe. Paradis bought some super cute converse shoes and I got (yet another) knitting project. Where we are going to pack those newly purchased items I have no idea!

Paradis and I checking out the map!
We went back to the hotel as Annelies wanted to swim and Paradis and Scott wanted to take a 30 minute nap. I am not kidding, but they both ended up sleeping FIVE hours! I'm not sure if it was the anti-nausea pills we all took for the boat ride, or shutting the curtains in our hotel room, or just simply it was our last day on the road, but it was a LONG 30 minutes! Annelies encouraged all of us to get out, take a walk and get a little something to eat so we did.

We enjoyed some mac-n-cheese (AV) with nachos and talked about our trip. We all agreed it was yet another successful vacation. We saw a ton of the USA, met some great people, and learned some interesting things about our country. SUCCESS! Tomorrow we will board a flight in Victoria, change planes in Seattle and head back to Minnesota.

Day eleven: 0 miles (2,775 total); $0 on gas ($457.80 total); $15.00 on souvenirs ($387.81 total); $0 tourist traps ($478.17 total); One state (Six total); Two Countries (Two total); 1 fight (1 total); 1 injury (1 total).

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day Ten | Good Morning Seattle, Pike Place, Space Needle, Turkish Delight and Chittenden Lock

We woke to a fabulous breakfast at our hotel (free!) and drove downtown Seattle to Pike Place Market. We did a little shopping, although Annelies got a little overwhelmed by the crowds (it was after all a Saturday) and therefore didn't hang out very long.
We drove to the Space Needle and went straight to the top. What a view!

Paradis took the picture below, a typical scene on our trip. Scott and I reading up on the history of the Space Needle while standing in line! Check out my new Mt. Rainier jacket! Love it ...
Scott and Paradis wanted to have seafood for lunch (what else while in Seattle?) so we returned to Pike Place Market. The girls were excited to see a sign 'Turkish Delight'. If you haven't heard of it before, it is a sweet that is mentioned in The Lion, The Witch and the The Wardrobe. Let's just say they won't be wanting to try it again in the future!
Our last stop was the Chittenden Lock, which features the famous fish ladder to help the salmon run. This is a must see while in Seattle. Super fun to watch the locks in action and the salmon ladder viewing room is amazing (and free)! Scott loved watching all the big boats come and go through the locks.
We tried to find a geocache in the area, but all three of our phones died (low on battery) just before we found it. So no go ...

We ended our night at the hotel. While I made ferry and hotel reservations for tomorrow, Scott worked at jamming all our items into luggage for the trip tomorrow. Not the easiest task in our day. Great day in Seattle; the weather was absolutely amazing! It was sunny and warm.

Day ten: 65 miles (2,775 total); $45.72 on gas ($457.80 total); $11.28 on souvenirs ($382.81 total); $68 tourist traps ($478.17 total); One state (Six total); One Country (Two total); 1 fight (1 total); 1 injury (1 total).

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Day Nine | Yummy Breakfast, Mt. Rainier, Seattle and a Scary Van

We started the morning off right with breakfast at our resort. We love supporting small businesses, so we were happy to have breakfast with Nick, the three year-old grandson of the owner of our resort. Yummy, yummy food and only $20 for a HUGE breakfast!
Off we drove to Mt. Rainier. The temperature sure did drop when we hit the park; it was only 45 degrees! We stopped at all the Visitor Centers - Longmire, Paradise, Ohanapecosh, and Sunrise. Scott and the girls enjoyed some snowball fights along the way ...

We went on a hike through The Grove of the Patriarchs and saw some beautiful old trees. They were huge. It was amazing to see how large the Red Cedars could get after all those years.
It wasn't until we got to the top - Sunrise - that we saw how beautiful Mt. Rainier really was. Wow! If you are going to go to Mt. Rainier do not skip the drive to Sunrise. Fabulous views.

We drove to Seattle and dropped off the last of the Redbox movies. Yes, Annelies is kissing the Redbox cases - she was sad to see them go!
We settled into a Holiday Inn Express (used Scott's travel points) that we will stay at for the next two nights, threw in a load of laundry and emptied the rental van, completely. Let me tell you ... after nearly 3,000 miles on the road that thing was disgusting! Yikes! Tomorrow we will spend the day touring Seattle ...

Day eight: 215 miles (2,710 total); $59.64 on gas ($412.08 total); $66.34 on souvenirs ($371.53 total); $15 tourist traps ($410.17 total); One state (Six total); One Country (Two total); 1 fight (1 total); 1 injury (1 total).

Friday, July 8, 2011

Day Eight | Oregon Plate, Mt. St. Helen, and off too Rainier

Annelies slept in the closet last night. For some reason she has been opposed to sleeping with Paradis on this trip. She says Paradis is creepy and Scott snores (which he does at times, but what does it matter if you are sleeping next to him or in the bed one foot away?). 
We woke to find this deer just ten feet from our room when the girls were headed to the pool. Crazy. The wildlife is a little too friendly around this part of the country, but we are enjoying it. 
We needed an Oregon license plate, so we stopped at an auto repair shop by our hotel. We met the owner, Chris Page, who although didn’t have a modern plate, had a bunch of antique plates hanging on his wall. He took one off and gave it to us! Again, no lie. He was excited to hear about our travels and simply asked that we ‘friend’ him on Facebook. Please take a minute to friend Mt. Hood Auto and Tire on Facebook! 
Off we went to Mount St. Helens. As we crossed the Oregon/Washington border there wasn’t a ‘Welcome to Washington’ sign. So we stopped at the first rest stop and got this one … my traveling team thought it would be funny to hold me horizontally. Lovely. 
Mount St. Helens was foggy when we first arrived (there was a small part of me that was glad we got to use the rain jackets we packed!), but the skies cleared on our way down the mountain. We found the history of the volcano eruption to be fascinating. We wished we could have stayed a little longer at the Visitor Center, but we only had a couple hours. It was interesting to hear about the volcano erupting in 1980 and how Mother Earth has adapted since. 

We decided to drive all the way to Mount Rainier so we could see the park right away in the morning. The distance is only twenty miles as the crow flies, but took us two hours getting through the mountain and across the rivers. The drive was enjoyable. 

We stayed at Rainier Overland, a small resort just a few miles from Mt. Rainier’s Nisqually Entrance. We are anxious for our last National Park visit tomorrow. Both girls will be flying home with a bag full of pins, Junior Ranger badges and their Passport books filled with stamps. We will spend the day in Seattle and then travel to Victoria Canada via the ferry before we fly out on Monday.

Day eight: 264 miles (2,495 total); $62.92 on gas ($352.44 total); $17.28 on souvenirs ($305.19 total); $16 tourist traps ($395.17 total); Two states (Six total); One Country (Two total); 1 fight (1 total); 1 injury (1 total).

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day Eight | The Courthouse,

We got back on the road with the goal of getting a Washington license plate. I called several salvage yards and all stated they couldn't give plates away as they were required by the state to destroy them. I wouldn't give up, so I called the Licensing Bureau in a town an hour away. Lovely Haddy answered and said, "I can't sell you one, but I have a couple at home in my recycle bin. I will drive home and pick them up. Stop by on your way through town." This is no lie people. Haddy literally left her job at the Licensing Bureau, went home to get the license plates from her recycle bin, and brought them back to the courthouse for us! AND she had an Idaho plate as well. It was surreal!

We continued down the road, crossed the border into Oregon and stopped for the standard photo.
We continued down the road to beautiful Mount Hood. Amazing. Have I said that yet? This country of ours is absolutely amazing! We drove up to Timberline Lodge, picked up a few souvenirs and ended up in Welch Village. We were all ready for a relaxing evening, so I negotiated a great rate at The Resort on the Mountain and we hung out for the evening swimming in the pool and relaxing. 
I added a Quote Wall and Slide Show of ALL our photos to the blog. Check it out in the right-hand column (on the web if you are getting email updates). 

Day eight: 371 miles (2231 total); $59.44 on gas ($289.52 total); $40 on souvenirs ($287.91 total); $0 tourist traps ($379.17 total); Two states (Six total); One Country (Two total); 1 fight (1 total); 1 injury (1 total).

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Day Seven | Bye Cozy Cabin, West Glacier, Rafting, Idaho and Washington

We packed up and said good-bye to our Cozy Cabin in Glacier. Annelies and Scott had a little power struggle over taking her medication, so I’m going to have to mark that as our first fight. Needless to say, she refused to join us for the Cozy Cabin photo!

We drove to West Glacier, did a little souvenir shopping and drove the Going to the Sun road within the park. The drive was OK – but the scenery was nothing like the East side of Glacier. It felt more like big hills with trees vs. mountains with snow. Don’t get me wrong, it was beautiful but we are glad we spent more time on the East. We also noticed that the West side was very busy. Much more touristy. 
Next we went Whitewater Rafting. What a blast! We had a choice between the ‘family ride’ or one with rapids. What do you think my team said when I asked which one? Paradis said, “I want to get wet!” Annelies said, “I want the more dangerous one!” Shortly after we started floating down the river, guess who was in the back steering the raft with our guide? Yes, Annelies! Wish I had a photo to show you, but I had to buy a waterproof disposable camera; I’m hoping some of them turn out!

We bought a few souvenirs, said good-bye to Glacier, stopped at a Redbox kiosk to gear up for the drive, and drove to Spokane (5 ½ hours). Along the way we drove through Paradis, Montana. Of course we had to stop and get a picture.
We crossed into Idaho on busy I90, but pulled over on the side and snapped a few pictures. State #17 for the girls! We also crossed into Washington, but didn't see a welcome sign - we will have to get one on our way out. 
We checked in at a Days Inn in downtown Spokane and fell asleep within minutes. Good day … we are sad to see Glacier go but are looking forward to Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier.  

Day seven: 519 miles (1,860 total); $0 on gas ($230.08 total); $113.76 on souvenirs ($241.04 total); $179.12 tourist traps ($379.17 total); Three states (Five total); One Country (Two total); 1 fight (1 total); 1 injury (1 total).

Monday, July 4, 2011

Day Six | Rest, Oh Canada, and a Firework Finale … Eh?

The Fourth of July started with me making an executive decision that my traveling team could use a couple extra hours of sleep. So our original plan of catching the 10:00 boat tour moved to 1:00. I spent the morning making lunches, doing laundry, cleaning the Cozy Cabin, hauling garbage to the dumpster (I was in heaven) and picking up warm cinnamon rolls! Yum, yum. 
We hit the road and drove to Canada. Yes, we left the country on one of the biggest celebration days of our country’s history! One of the best parts of the day was simply crossing the American/Canadian border and seeing how the land was cleared all the way from Montana to the Pacific Ocean (see the cut in the trees just above my left shoulder). The girls loved it. Scott and I were relieved they didn't search our car and find the large box of fireworks we had stashed in the trunk!
We drove to Waterton, located on the Canadian side of Glacier Park, and boarded a boat that took us on a two hour ride down Waterton Lake.  We docked at Goat Haunt which is on the American side of the park. Beautiful. When we arrived, we got our passports stamped, once again, with a cute goat stamp!
We did a little shopping to pick up our pins and stamps and Annelies became a Junior Explorer (equal to Junior Ranger in America). We had an early dinner at Trapper’s Mountain Grill (Scott had to smell the ketchup since it wasn’t Heinz) and hit the road back to the great U.S. of A. We stopped on the way home and finished up all the ‘twirly – shooting – twisty – exploding’ fireworks on the side of the road overlooking one of the best Fourth of July backgrounds we have ever had. The girls would like to travel every Fourth of July, to any state that legalizes fun fireworks! They had a blast!
I would like to take a moment to thank my traveling team. When Scott and I first met, 17 years ago, the first year of our relationship was built around planning a month-long trip to Europe. Travel became a large part of our lives and I learned rather quickly I love traveling with him. We are great partners. Everyday I’m reminded at how much I enjoy traveling with Annelies and Paradis as well. We don’t vacation like normal Americans – I realize that. Our goal is to immerse ourselves in the natural environment of the locals as much as possible, we love learning about the history of this wonderful country, we avoid eating out and getting sucked into tourist traps, we love collecting things (pins, rocks, pressed pennies), we love to meet new people along our journeys and we are just downright cheap! There isn't a day that goes by that one of us doesn’t get caught in a huge belly laugh on account of another. We have a democratic process of voting on what we want to do and just simply have fun. I completely admit Drivin’ the Dream was my dream; but this team has jumped on board and more importantly embraced the dream themselves. Thanks Scott, Paradis and Annelies … you three rock!
Day six: 156 miles (1,497 total); $0.00 on gas ($230.08 total); $62.13 on souvenirs ($127.28 total); $121.05 tourist traps ($200.05 total); One state (Three total); Two Countries (Two total); 0 fights (0 total); 1 injury (1 total).