New Mexico

IMG_1626.JPGThe Land of Enchantment. This state line sign was easy to get. It is at the entrance to The Four Corners Monument. We stopped here on our way from Grand Canyon National Park to our Cave hotel nestled in the mountains/rocks of Farmington, New Mexico.

The Four Corners was a great mid point. It had food vendor trucks and lots of booths with handmade jewelry and collectibles. Fun to at least look at all there is to offer. Make sure to stand in line to get your picture at all 4 of the states at one time. Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado.

The whole family!

IMG_7122.JPGJust Gunnar.

IMG_7125Just Hunter.

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IMG_7123You will have plenty of time to choose your pose. The line goes at a steady pace because you are technically only allowed 3 photos per family (we snuck in 4, shhhh).  People are pretty clever with their poses, fun to watch and it keeps you entertained on your wait.

Next up was the high light of my children’s vacation, Kokopellis Cave B&B. This place was AMAZING!!! Don’t believe me?  Check it out!

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The Master Bedroom.
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Complete with its own balcony ❤️❤️
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Leaving Master Bedroom and walking into living room
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The dining area
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The Kitchen from the dining area
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The entry way from the front door
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Waterfall shower in the bathroom.
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The dining room from the front entryway
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Last but not least enjoying a cocktail on the patio.

This place was so much fun that I had a hard time getting the kids out of there the next morning to go to Mesa Verde National Park.  The whole time at Mesa Verde was “when are we going back to the cave”.  We did get back after sunset which I don’t recommend, it’s hard to find in the day light.  We had an origami lesson from Hunter which was very memorable.  We left our origami designs there with a collection of them.  Great times.

I hope you have enjoyed this part of our adventure.

Until next time 🙂

 

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Minuteman Missile National Historic Site

This place was a BLAST!! Get it? A Blast?? But seriously you won’t want to “miss”ile this historic site. We stopped here before we drove through the Badlands.  The park consists of three different sites along Interstate 90, our first stop was the Visitor Center at Exit 131. The Visitor Center was not very busy at all and the Rangers were great, they were serving chocolate cake to all the visitors to celebrate the end of the cold war.  This site was established in 1999 and is the first national park dedicated exclusively to the Cold War.

We walked around the visitor center and toured the museum for about an hour.  The kids worked on their Junior Ranger program for MMNHS as we drove across South Dakota.  We actually printed it from the website so they could have something to do in the car.  They finished this up in the museum, did their ranger pledge, earned their badges and got our Passport cancellations. Not bad for a day’s work.


We then headed to Badlands National Park, see separate blog for this, for the rest of this day.

I purchased tickets 90 days in advance so we could all do the Delta-01 tour.  Our tour was the next morning at 10 am.  When we got there the Ranger that did our Junior Rangers was our tour guide.  What an absolute riot, this guy was great!  He had jokes, puns and information overload.  My (almost) teenager was given a run for his money with this guy, it was perfect.  He was even able to keep my 10 year old interested.


The underground Launch Control Facility has the same equipment and furnishings it did while it was operational and it shows, reminds me so much of our old government furnished lab facility. The silo at Delta-01 held a missile for 30 years.  This place really preserves opportunities to explore the history of the nuclear arms race.  I was amazed at how much we learned, right down to the pencil sharpener!!

Let me know if you have any questions on this place. It was by far one of our favorites!!

Until next time.

South Dakota

South Dakota!! We made it! The third state we hit on National Park Trip Season 2! The top picture was taken at a rest stop along I-90 westbound, it was at mile marker #362 (Salem Westbound Information Center).  The lower picture we got on the way out of South Dakota, this one located on Hwy 16 Westbound on our way into Wyoming. It was a really nice and easy stop with huge pullovers for both signs.  I highly recommend stopping here.

South Dakota stops we made: (I will post links as I catch up on blogging them)

What South Dakota adventure wouldn’t be complete with a stop off at Wall Drug!

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Get a picture on the Jackelope!

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Annnd can anyone guess what movie I will be showing my kids when we get home from this adventure???????

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Forget Wall Drug, dinosaurs, jackelopes, totem poles and Zoltar machines, the kids were most excited about sleeping in a tee pee!!!  My mom and I stayed in a great little cabin right outside of Wall just north of the entrance to Badlands National Park.  Frontier Cabins Motel was our choice of stay, the teepee was located directly outside of our cabin and next to the hot tub. Kids were in heaven that night 🙂  Adults enjoyed the cabin, I would stay again if I was in the area. I like to stay in places like this because one of my pet peeves is disrespectful people at hotels.  They get up at 6 am and feel the need to slam the doors and fill their ice buckets.  These cabins are spaced apart perfectly that noises are rare and you can enjoy the peace and quiet.  Great nights sleep here

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Oh and let’s not forget the famous Crazy Horse statue that I could have saved a bunch of money on and lived happily ever after without seeing!! Hunter wanted to see it so guess what, we paid an ungodly amount of cash to walk into huge tourist trap that really wasn’t impressive at all. Do yourself a favor and keep driving or take a picture from outside.IMG_2642.JPG

Before I end this post, I would like to give a shout out to The Bavarian Inn in Custer, South Dakota.  This is where we stayed while in Custer and it was amazing!  Huge rooms, pool, tennis courts, life size connect 4, games, and the boys loved the Pancake bar!  I can’t wait to get back there to spend more time.  Custer, South Dakota was a great town to visit and will be fun to revisit!  I look forward to bringing back the husband for some R&R.

Until next time. Safe travels.

 

 

Pipestone National Monument


1st National Park/Monument on National Park Trip Season 2 is in Pipestone, Minnesota and boy what a treat this place was. We learned so much here, and it was all very interesting!!


For nearly 2000 years the Plains Indians have prized this soft stone. They use it to make stone pipes for ceremonial smoking. At the visitor center there is a short, 22 minute film on the struggles the Native Americans had to protect their lands and quarries for this precious stone. Very interesting, I highly recommend.

We then walked through the small museum that displayed some of the pipes that the Native Americans made!


We witnessed a demonstration on how to sand the stone and how the pipes were made. The man was very patient with our questions! Very fun to watch. Gunnar couldn’t get enough.


We grabbed our Junior Ranger booklets and took off to the outside trail. We did the Circle trail and stopped to take a lot of pictures. This place is very photogenic. The boys loved finding the faces in the rocks, can you spot them as well??


Next up Winniwissa Falls!! Absolutely Gorgeous!! 


Can’t go wrong here!! Keep walking and you get to enjoy the beautiful pinks and brick reds of the rocks! So pretty! 

And just when you think the walk is over, you get this view, from the bottom of the creek! Wow, what a view!!


Back to the Visitor Center for our Junior Ranger Badges (see below).


Oh and let’s not forget our cancellations and sticker for our National Park Passport books! It wouldn’t be a trip without it!! Do you have yours yet? Our family loves ours!!


Now we are chilling out at The Historic Calumet Inn, in Pipestone! Beautiful hotel, rumor has it, it may be haunted! 👻👻 Game on!! We will let you know if we hear anything going bump in the night 😱 As of now I recommend this place! Reminds me of some hotels we stayed at in Europe. I can’t get enough of those!

Hope you enjoyed our pictures of Day 1 of National Park Trip Season 2! Up next is The Badlands!!

Enjoy your travels!!

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Minnesota 

First stop on National Park Trip Season 2!! The Minnesota State line sign!! This is one of my favorite state line signs, this one found on I-35 North heading into Minnesota from Iowa. There is a tiny spot to pull off to park, but make it quick, tons of traffic and they are very friendly! Just about everyone was honking and waving!! Lol!!

Next stop was for a picnic lunch, we decided it should be in Blue Earth, Minnesota heading west on I-90. Home of the Jolly Green Giant! Kids had fun with this but looked at every adult like they were an alien as we all sang “Ho Ho Ho, Green Giant” as we walked around. Plenty of picnic tables, statue of the green giant, and a cute little gift shop/visitor center.


Picture of the kids with Mr. Jolly Green!


The Stats about the giant! Kids loved his shoe size!


Short little stop and on the road again. Next stop Pipestone National Monument, check out a separate post on that stop!!

Thanks for stopping!

Arizona

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Woot woot!! State line sign stop #3 of 50 was Arizona!! We just spent 3 wonderful days hiking in Zion National park and we’re on the way to Page, Arizona for a Colorado Rafting Tour and Antelope Canyon Tour. This sign was located at the Utah/Arizona border on Hwy 89 South. An elderly couple was at the sign taking pictures when we pulled up and they offered to take ours. It turned out great, don’t you think? Arizona was really pretty. The Lake Powell area and all the way to Antelope Canyon was amazing. Colors and landscapes I have never seen before. Lots of boats were out on the water, what a great place to explore. We might have to come back here for another vacation. Lots to do!

First stop was Antelope Canyon. We did it through a tour company called Ken’s Tours. I purchased tickets online so we didn’t need to wait in line. I will warn you though, to get on the Native American Land you have to pay a Navajo entrance fee of $32 that isn’t included in the cost of the Canyon tour. Luckily we knew this ahead of time and had the cash.  The tour company also only took cash as well.

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A short wait and we were off on the tour. Very slippery and you had to be very careful walking down to get on the steps to go into the canyon. Lots of steps to get down, this is not for the faint of heart, see picture above. Once you are down in the canyon it is hard to take a bad picture. This place was gorgeous, and a must see! I will admit they herd you through like cattle but they do give you plenty of time to get pictures. Don’t plan on having lots of pictures without people in the background, this will happen unless you take the special photography tour.

Here are a few pictures of what to expect on the tour. It was very pretty, my pictures don’t do it justice. What really helped is our tour guide knew the settings to get the best pictures for my camera, he just set them for me before the tour started. How awesome!!!

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When this tour ended the next one began. We did a Colorado River Rafting Tour through a company called Colorado River Discovery. Lunch was included in the rafting tour so we headed straight there. Rode in a bus to the river where we boarded the boats, lunch was actually really good I suggest getting it through this company if you are short on time. The place we were dropped off at was the picture on the front of my son’s math textbook that year, needless to say this made the trip all that more exciting!! LOL!! We did a 4 hour boat ride and got some pretty amazing pictures. What excited me the most is that we were on the river at Horseshoe Bend. Most people only get to see it from the top looking down, we saw it from the bottom up! Kids were also pretty brave and got in the 60 degree water at the halfway point, CRAZIES!!! What a fun trip! The driver of the boat let the kids sit on the side, this helped in cooling off, it was so hot out there!! We really enjoyed this trip, very relaxing with 360 degree beauty the whole way.  Highly recommend!  I hope you enjoy our pictures from that tour as well!!

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A stop for dinner and Wal-Mart for Origami paper and we are off to the Grand Canyon!  Check out the blog for our visit to the Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon National Park

Thanks for stopping and until next time, enjoy your travels!!

Update:

We revisited this great state in January 2018 for Gunnar’s Christmas Present, a hot air balloon ride!!!!

We have a Highschool classmate that flies hot air balloons over Arizona in the winter months. So when my 10 year old mentioned always wanting to ride in a hot air balloon one day we knew this would be the perfect gift!

We chose a sunset ride with Rainbow Ryders and requested Andy as our pilot. He did not disappoint! Fun to see him again and catch up, and the balloon ride was unforgettable!!

We arrived at the shop around 3 pm for our ride. We hopped in a van and the crew transported us to an open field north of Phoenix. We watched while the crew inflated the balloons with a fan and then filled with the “hot air”.

 

Before we knew it we were jumping in and in the air! It doesn’t take long to get elevated!

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The views were gorgeous! He took us up and then down over some mountains and then back up again!! The highest we got was around 7000 feet!

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The landing was not what I expected but I am up for an adventure anytime!!

Mimosas on the ground while the crew packs up the balloon!

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Andy let the kids play with the “hot air”, they were super stoked about this!!

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Back to the shop for some good eats!

What an amazing experience ❤️❤️❤️

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Thanks Andy and Santa!!!

Until we meet again Arizona!!!

Utah

 

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Utah was the next State Line sign to cross off on National Park Trip Season 1.

I didn’t know what to expect of Utah, I hadn’t heard much about the state other than how beautiful Bryce Canyon National Park was. We stopped and got our picture taken at Utah/Colorado border along I-70 West. Met some travelers from Switzerland, who graciously took this wonderful photo for us. They too were heading to Arches National Park. Utah was pretty boring the first 30-45 minutes. Then it was just jaw dropping. The colors, the contrast, the mountains in the background. What a beautiful state, how could I have not heard about this before?? It got even better on the trip from Arches to Bryce Canyon. Evergreens, mountains, streams, rivers, ranches, Red Canyon, does it get any better than this? Utah is a must do for everyone! Check out how beautiful this state is by visiting the blogs for each National Park we visited on our way through.

Follow the links below to each post:

Arches National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

Canyonlands National Park

Zion National Park

 

Until next time!

Enjoy your travels!

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