Posts Tagged ‘Geography’

Hubby’s first view of the Grand Canyon left him slack-jawed for about ten minutes.
Sam couldn’t believe how far down it was to the floor of the canyon, and I didn’t remember how awe- inspiringly-beautiful it was.
(Is that a word? It should be.)   
The Nintendo DS stayed in the car. 
The storm that had been chasing us was circling back around.  After about 30 minutes the thunder and lightening started.  Sam watched a bolt of lightening strike miles across the canyon.  It was then that we decided it was time to head for the lodge. 

You know how when you sleep in a bed other than your own it’s hard to drift off right away? 
Not for Hubby and I. 
Sam, it was another story.  Of course, he’d slept 6 + hours in the back seat so he read for awhile. 
He found the bible that the Gideons left in a drawer. 
Maybe it’s the video games, maybe it’s the generation, but his attitude is – “Bring it On!” 
And, he loves the ending. 
He finally turned off the light around midnight but not before he hummed us a couple of songs from his last orchestra recital. 

The next morning it was beautiful outside, not a cloud in the sky.  At the Red Feather Lodge, when we were there they had continental breakfast tickets they gave us at check-in.  At the lodge’s restaurant, “Cafe Tusayan” they offer either a continental breakfast or $5.50 off your breakfast chosen from the menu.  It was delicious and filling.  Our top piece of advice would be to pick a hotel that offers a breakfast in the morning.  Several of the hotels where we stayed offered this benefit. 

After breakfast our plan was to drive around the park and see as much as we could by car.  Sam wanted to take in the IMAX theatre showing of “The Grand Canyon.”  We had a coupon for 10% off…$7.00 for a party of 6.  How much does this movie cost, anywat?  We ended up not going, we’ve seen the IMAX movies about Yellowstone & Mt Saint Helen’s. 
Hubby told Sam…”The Grand Canyon is spread out before us, who wants to see a movie?”  Apparently Sam did.  But he got over it. 

We invite you to view some of our photos of the Grand Canyon, while you listen to a favorite singer of our family. 
The song fits perfectly.  If the name Steven Curtis Chapman sounds familiar, it is because besides Steven being a DOVE award winning song writer, singer and composer, the Chapman family suffered a severe loss 15 months ago when one of their daughters died in a tragic accident at their home.  Keep this family in your prayers. 


I am cheating – you saw this one in a previous post. 




 Who needs a DS right now. 


That elusive lightening got away again. 


Glad there were no snakes hiding in here.


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Years ago we traveled like we were hippies from the 60’s….a VW vanagon….wherever the road took us….wherever the wind blew…with no hotel reservations.  We weren’t total rebels…we got maps from AAA. 
We had kids.  
It’s hard to be “free as a bird” with one in diapers, one barely potty trained and one who loved to flush toilets. 
But, we were thrilled to have had our “wings clipped.” 

We’re not in our 20’s anymore; as Sam would be quick to tell you.  We’re old.
It’s not that fun to sleep in the car anymore….we did that recently when we arrived at a camp site too late in the evening to set up our tent. 
We groaned, creaked and cracked for hours the next morning.  Where’s the Motrin? 
We like our comforts…bed…pillows…hot coffee.  We have a 12 yr old, who is very fond of electricity and sleeping in a bed…usually ours. Regardless of our now deep seated desire for creature comforts, I wasn’t worried about not having hotel reservations for our upcoming trip adventure. 

With just one son at home, we decided it was time once again to undertake that time honored tradition of a family vacation by car. 
This time it wasn’t a “V- DUB” it was a rented KIA.  We had casually mapped out our route.  The Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Mono Lake & Yosemite National Park.  I wasn’t worried about making reservations. 

“Who goes to the Grand Canyon in July?” I asked.
“It’s not like we’re going to Zion National Park on Mother’s Day….”  (Now there’s a story I must share sometime.) 
“There are plenty of hotels around Yosemite!  It’s not like we’re going to be camping there. 
They keep saying on the news that everyone is having a ‘Staycation’ this year.  It’ll be fine…..” 

Yes, I have your family booked for our last available room Mrs. Stuart. 

As we were packing the car, Sam repeatedly asked me, “Where are we staying our first night, mom?”  Lying through my teeth I said, “Outside the Grand Canyon.”  Sam really wasn’t satisfied with that answer, he wanted the hotel name and confirmation number.  But he was so excited that he barely slept the night before and we left at 4 AM the following morning.  Outside Corona CA, after pancakes and Dramamine, Sam was out.

We left CA and entered AZ.  Sam slept through gas stops, potty stops and a drive-thru visit to DQ. 
At a scenic overlook when I got out of the car, I remembered one of our favorite sayings from the road…”But it’s a DRY heat…” 
I found two lovely Navajo women there, selling turquoise jewelery.  Decades ago at a similar stop, I bought a necklace with a three inch chunk of the stone.  I didn’t find anything nearly as large this time. 

All the way to Williams, Arizona, the Great Spirit in the Sky treated us to one His magnificent lightening storms. 
In fact, we were followed all 6 days by fantastic displays of God’s pyrotechnics.  Seems there was a storm just circling around AZ, UT, NV and Northern CA. 

After we had been driving for sometime through AZ, I thought I’d better find us a room for the night.   The Arizona AAA Tour Book was a great resource.  The first hotel I called wanted $250.00 for the night.  Hubby wanted to know if that room came with someone to scrub your back in the shower and then tuck you in for the night.  I told the girl at the reservations desk that I would call her back. 

As I continued to peruse through the hotel listings, there was a particularly loud clap of thunder.  With the possibility of sleeping in the car becoming a reality, I quickly called one of my next choices….The Red Feather Lodge, just about 2 miles outside the south entrance to the park.  I had to practically stand on my head in the KIA (not an easy task to be sure) to get cell reception.  I finally reached reservations for the hotel by holding my head just so, while we barrelled along at 70 MPH. 
“When would you be visiting us?” the girl asked.  “Tonight,” I said. 
She put me on hold so that I would not hear her laughing.  After what seemed like an eternity she came back on the line and requested my credit card number.  It seems the Stuart family had gotten THE last room at the Red Feather Lodge.  www.redfeatherlodge.com

Sam was jarred awake by a deep rumble of thunder.  He was so excited by the light show and preceded to refresh our education regarding weather, storms, lightening and thunder.  There were fantastic jagged bolts of lightening every 5-10 seconds in the clouds in front of us.  I tried in vain to photograph one of them;  I finally quit and just enjoyed the show.

When we reached Williams, Arizona, Sam spotted a Pizza Hut.  The Hut in Arizona is nothing like CA.  They had a salad bar, you could pick individual orders of pasta, and the kids working there were very sweet.  Sorry, if I’m stepping on toes.  After our meal we headed for our hotel.  The hotel was very nice and the staff accommodating.  We got our luggage in the room and then headed for into the park for Sam &  Hubby’s first glimpse of the Grand Canyon…live and in person. 
It seemed like it was the first time I had seen it too.  The ten minutes when I was a tween with Teddy and Grandma, was a long time ago. 
(See Clustr Maps:  Connect the Dots!  Part I)


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During one of those cross country trips when I was a tween one of the 8 tracks that we played a lot was an Nat King Cole album. 
There was one song in particular that popped back in my head during our recent whirlwind tour of National Parks.  When we were in Williams, Arizona, I saw this sign and I couldn’t stop singing the song.  Sam thought I was nuts.  Since I am a mom, I guess he thinks that anyway.

The 8 track tape has been long since donated to the Smithsonian so I don’t know the title of the album it appeared on, but I managed to find it on youtube….They have EVERYTHING! 


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Home…finally…from WA
Then a Road trip…CA-AZ-UT-NV-CA
3 national parks, one state park and a cave in 6 days
Clustr Maps part II
Geography lessons
Stay tuned

Coming Soon:   Forks – The Great Adventure

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I love maps; I studied geography in college, not as part of my career goals, but just because it was interesting. 

When my friend and blogging buddy told me about ClustrMaps and I saw the link info on her site, it looked like fun. 
I like seeing where the people who visit my blog come from.  It makes me feel connected to the world, and chances are I will never visit some of the far flung places in the world that drop by my blog for a visit.  Welcome.  Stay and have a cup of tea while you read.   Someday I hope to get to Europe & stay in a castle, any castle will do.  (I know they are drafty…I will bring a sweater.) We have plans for an Alaskan cruise in 2010….but I’m afraid that my long desired trip to the Holy Land will have to wait.

When I was growing up, my family travelled cross-country…three times…from coast to coast…by car.  When we lived in the east, there were trips to Georgia, Florida and the east coast…New York, New England, Canada and our nation’s capital. 
I was always in charge of the AAA Trip-tick on these adventures.  I read aloud from the appropriate tour book that listed the hotels and points of interest along the way. 

I know what you’re thinking…..”Oh how romantic and fun that must have been!”…..traveling by car, learning about the United States, meeting interesting people…visiting national parks, monuments, historic cities…seeing America up close…Yes, that would have been fun. 
Let me clarify…
I would have enjoyed the maps, the traveling and the history much more, if my father was the kind of person that actually pulled over to enjoy the scenic outlooks that the tour books boasted about. 

Rather, our stops were fast…fill the car up with gas and a potty break for the occupants…including the dog.  Sometimes the stops were just to let the dog out for a quick pee and maybe  a poop.  Teddy got really good at holding it in for…..hours.  She was the only dog I have ever seen who could cross her legs.  Since she also had motion sickness, we had to give her Dramamine.  I still have a vivid memory of her vomiting on the edge of a mountain road on the way to Big Bear, CA.  Poodle puke is not pretty. 
Sad face. 


Some of these cross country road trips also included my 70-ish year old grandmother.  
While having three generations trapped in a vehicle is great for family togetherness & bonding….one member of our family was not thrilled.  You see, my dog HATED the sound of my grandma’s voice. 
So we had to medicate her during the trips….the dog…not my grandmother.   

Fortunately for Teddy, the Dramamine helped her sleep…again, the dog slept…. not my grandmother.
Oh no!  Grandma did not sleep, maybe briefly doze off perhaps, but never a good long nap…filling the car with peaceful quiet….
Those brief ‘cat naps’ (sorry Teddy) gave Grandma the energy to talk, a lot.  Grandma had opinions to force upon you share; people to gossip talk about…

My grandmother did not approve of the music selections, restaurant choices (she wasn’t paying), conversation topics, or the level of the air conditioning.  She was not afraid of loudly voicing her opinions and Grandma’s opinions were many. 
During her lectures, Teddy would have her head buried in my mom’s armpit, even the Dramamine didn’t help. 
Sometimes she would whimper….(yes, the dog.) 
There were times during the trips that I’m sure my dad wished he could slip her a ‘little something’…in this case…his mother…not the dog.

As far as the music selections, don’t get excited.  We had approximately a dozen 8 Track tapes…remember those?  Montavanni & His Orchestra, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Doc Severinsen (from Tonight Show fame), Nat King Cole….(I heard Mona Lisa so many times that I could probably re-write an arrangement  of it today, myself – from memory.)  Then, there was the very jazzy 8 track tape that came with the car.  I can’t remember all the performers, but every time I hear Carlos Santana’s “Oye como va“, I am transported to a long stretch of deserted highway somewhere in the continental US. 
I actually have the music playing “as we speak”…it’s giving me, my inspiration.


While Grandma claimed to not like the the uptempo numbers, she kept time by tapping on the passenger window….for miles……(she really liked the Carlos Santana piece.)  Sometimes we could get a smile out of Grandma by singing a chorus of “Sweet Hour of Prayer” along with Tennessee Ernie Ford in Donald Duck voices.  And they call this…talent. 
There were other artists, but I can’t remember the titles now…the tapes have long since been donated to the Smithsonian. 
(Although Manilow’s “Even Now ” 8 track is still around here somewhere.  Notice:  Any snotty anti-Barry Manilow comments will earn you an immediate place of dishonor in the Spam folder.)

During one rather eventful trip, my mom was seated behind my grandmother.  Mom was in the direct line air conditioning for hours;  she had a serious case of bronchitis/pneumonia by the time we reached our destination.  Luckily, hospitals are also listed in the AAA tour books.

I saw the Grand Canyon as a ‘tween.’  My father parked the car, we got out, walked to edge, stared out and took a photo.  I still have the pic of me and Teddy in a photo album…acid free of course.  My dad said “that’s the Grand Canyon.”  We got back in the car.  The little tour had taken away 10 minutes from our valuable drive time. 

Teddy was not without her colorful moments.  Once in Canada after the Olympics in Montreal, a lovely Canadian with a French accent asked if he could pet Teddy.   I did not understand, “Does she bite?  in French….fortunately he moved his hand before she tried to give him a nip.   She was an adorable dog, and the fact that she wore her security ‘blanket’ sweater even in the summer made her even cuter.  I apologized profusely for my dog, I must have had the gene for diplomacy even then.  The gentleman was very kind and accepted my regrets for the behavior of my medicated poodle.  Turned out he was some sort of Canadian diplomat….good thing Teddy did not start an international incident. 

My husband’s traveling experiences were similar to mine. 
His family made approximately 15 trips between CA and the Midwest during his childhood. 
My in-laws had two weeks vacation each year and they did not want to spend all of it driving.  Hubby’s father and mother would take turns at the wheel, stopping only for potty breaks until they reached their destination.  Hubby’s CA grandma would make sandwiches for the trip….
Hubby says they had to hope the food would last and not spoil….luckily Coleman coolers had been invented by then…..

His family would always begin their journeys late at night or in the wee morning hours…to get through the desert while it was cool. 
Of course this meant the first leg of the trip was in the dark….making it difficult to see the beautiful scenery. 
There were often conversations like the following –
“Hey Kids!  Here’s Yosemite….But Dad, it’s 3 am – it’s kinda dark!” 
“Oh look!  That was an indian reservation!…Really? Where?” 
It’s a wonder when we were growing up that neither one of us had whiplash from watching the scenery zoom past. 

Hubby is willing to share some personal anecdotes of travelling with his family: 
One trip all the children had coloring books.  They kept the new crayons in a coffee can…never put a coffee can filled with crayons in the back window of an Oldsmobile on a hot August morning…..

There was the time in Arizona….on a indian reservation…surprisingly enough during daylight hours…when Father-in-law bought fireworks.  “FIL” thought he was purchasing the tiny ‘lady fingers’ fireworks, when what he actually bought were full fledged firecrackers.  “FIL” thought it would be funny to light one off in the car…..I mean, light a firework in the car…don’t EVEN get me started on personal emissions.  After the blast rocked the station wagon, I’m surprised they all didn’t lose their hearing.  Could this be why sometimes Hubby says “Huh?” when I ask him a question?   

…Then there was the time that the brakes went out on the Oldsmobile, coming down out of Loveland Pass in Colorado…wheee…Rocky Mountain Higgggggggggh!  My mother-in-law nearly had a nervous breakdown from the joy ride down the mountain road. 

I don’t think I can tell you what happened in Yosemite…I’ll check to see if there’s a statute of limitations on flowers before my next post on Clustr Maps.  So – between hubby and I, we’d seen lots of the country by car…at 60 – 70  miles an hour or whatever….speed that our fathers could get by with…the speed limit allowed…often in the dark.

Coming in Part II – Stories from the Road when you take the time to stop and “Smell (Don’t pick) the Flowers!”

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