Reflection-Back Home

August 6, 2011 in Minimalist Summer Vacation 2011 by Lorilee Lippincott

We have been back from vacation now for a few days and already it seems like a dream.  I wanted to write up a final summary of the trip and our memories.

Best Place

Canada, so excited to finally go back after 11 years (over 20 since I was in Alberta where I was born).   Fun to see my dad and his place as well as the Canadian Rockies. 

Best Hiking

Grand Canyon.   It is just like climbing a mountain for distance except it is down first and it is hot instead of snowy.  Both improvements on a near perfect activity as far as I am concerned.

Best Food

Hottest food was in Oregon at our Thai restaurant, but our best food was where we stayed.  Dad, Megan, Jason and Gem all cook awsome! 

Best Beach

Cape Perpetua in Oregon.  Wish it was warm enough to swim but all the animals and the waves were awsome!

Best Road Trip Tool

Bryons blackberry and its ability to tether to the computer.  We used Google maps on the computer for everything (maps, restaurants, stores, etc).  Just days after we left on our 5 week trip we got notice on one of our rentals.  The internet in the car allowed us to get it rented while we were gone.  We signed papers an our after we drove back into town and only lost 3 days of rent.  That right there payed for a bunch of our trip.  Love technology.

Worst Money Spent

Most of the fast food we got.  Yuck!

Places we would want to go back

Pretty much all of it again.  There was lots more hiking in Custer State Park, Yellowstone, Banff, Kings Canyon and Grand Canyon that we wanted to do but ran out of time.  Probabaly we will look for a different place to travel next… maybe south east or out of the country… gotta save up. 




  1. Actually getting everything packed into the little car
  2. Finding out someone got killed by a bear the same day we were hiking in Yellowstone
  3. Going to the Calgary Stampede
  4. Ian climbing all the way up Sulfur Mountain and the Hot Springs with rain and lifeguards in winter coats (and hoods..zipped up)
  5. More snow than I have ever seen (always living in snowy climates) at Mount Baker… in July
  6. The Pacific coast being so much colder than I expected
  7. Sea life on the coast of Oregon and watching the kids play in the waves
  8. Big trees in California
  9. Smog :(
  10. Gas dropping .90 crossing between CA and AZ
  11. The most amazing hike down the Grand Canyon!
  12. Lots of kids fighting in the car

I think the kids are a bit bummed about being back.  Lily is complaining that her eyes hurt because there is nothing pretty to look at and that her legs hurt because there is nothing fun to climb.  Another day, another time.  For now, it is work and getting ready for homeschooling 2 kids this year.   Great trip!  Great memories!

Day 35-Last day, Driving Home Part 3 of 3

August 4, 2011 in Minimalist Summer Vacation 2011 by Lorilee Lippincott

Well, one thing we confirmed today, the kids can’t do more than 1 day in the car at a time….today marked 3 days in a row driving. Ian got board with his activities 2 ½ days ago, and has spent his time terrorizing his sister, drinking way to much water, and making a mess of himself and the car. …he is going to be trouble growing up. Lily, on the other hand, has provided great reactions to all his pestering, and also, drank to much water, making matters worse.

Before this trip, my idea of the west included mountains in some areas. However, on our trip from about day 2 we have been driving through mountains…. Until today… welcome back to Nebraska, the land of flat, hot, boring roads. It might have something to do with the fact that we are going home, but no state seems to take as long to cross as Nebraska (Iowa comes in close second).

No pictures from today. We piled into the car and left at 7:30 this morning from just north of Denver…. And drove… and drove… and drove. … more than 1 day of driving doesn’t work well for the parents either.

I thought 5 weeks would be forever for a vacation, but now that it is finished, it seemed it seems much shorter. The kids were saying this morning that they didn’t want to go home yet, they wanted to stay on vacation. Bryon and I are ready to get home for a bit, maybe two weeks to do laundry and get healthy again… but then we would love to be on the road again as well. If only we could figure out how to make travel and hiking pay.

Day 34-Arches National Park, Rockies, Driving home Part 2

August 4, 2011 in Minimalist Summer Vacation 2011 by Lorilee Lippincott

After another hot shower and breakfast we headed off again. I felt much better getting up, but soon had a fever of 100 again.

Arches was awesome. We explored it for a few hours in the morning. It isn’t a big park, but all of it is beautiful. With more time and less sick there was a great trail through Devils Garden that looked like fun.

The park lies on top of an underground salt bed that is responsible for all the arches, spires, balanced rocks, sandstone fins, and eroded monoliths that are all a bright red. It boasts the worlds biggest concentration of natural arches… over 2000 cataloged.

It all is so cool looking. It looks like clay art… on a God scale. All the different shapes, some seemingly defying gravity, are incredible to see.

The kids and I played on the Turret Arch for a while Bryon took pictures. It was perfect ‘rock climbing’ for them, steep but not too steep. They played Diego rescuing baby animals.

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful. Almost ran out of gas in ‘the middle of no where’ Colorado, drove through the Rockies again, saw a full double rainbow, and listened to 2 tired kids fight about everything….

Staying with friends tonight. It has been really fun to reconnect with several people on our trip that we haven’t seen for a long time. Fabulous food, company and bed. God willing, we will be back in our own bed tomorrow night.

Day 33-Mesa Verde, Driving Home Part 1

August 3, 2011 in Minimalist Summer Vacation 2011 by Lorilee Lippincott

(this is on the far east side of Grand Canyon park roads.  It is in an old fire tower)

So frustrated. I typed up the post for yesterday and when I opened the file again it was gone. So here it is again,… never as good the second time.

Yesterday was hard. I am never the last person in the family to get sick, but I managed to this time. Lily and Ian had the sinus bug in California and Bryon got it at Grand Canyon. I managed to pick it up bad starting Saturday evening. I don’t know if I get sicker or just am a bigger baby about being sick… but I am a mess.

We didn’t have that far to drive so we decided to add on a few other places to the route for the day. The first detour we took was to the four corners… but when we got there it looked cheesy and we didn’t end up paying to get in.

The other place we detoured to was Mesa Verde National Park. This park, in the south west corner of Colorado, was set up to preserve architectural ruins that were built in the early 1000’s. It claims to be the best site in North America of its kind. We didn’t have much time so we just went straight to the Spruce Tree House. This house was used by 60-80 people and is one of the buildings that we could visit without a tour. Tucked back into the rock wall it was still surprisingly intact. We couldn’t walk over most of it, but some of the front area the kids could crawl all over.

They had these rooms that were circular, about 10‘-12’ across and only accessible from the top through a little hole and down a ladder. There was one that we could go down into. It was unclear, listening to the Ranger, if this was a family ‘house’ or a room used for religious purposes. There was at least 3 or 4 that we could see in the whole building/longhouse structure.

We crawled down into the room, but it was really dusty and hard to breath. I can’t imagine living in something like that. Either way, the kids loved the ladder.

Lots of buildings are in the area still. It would be a great place to visit and see more of at another time. This is crazy far back compared to most of our history. When people built these buildings the ‘known world’ didn’t include Asia much less any of the Americas and most of the Islands. They have survived lots of time and a lot of world changes.

Last night was one of the nights we didn’t have planned out. Originally, we were going to drive straight through to Denver in one day, but Bryon really wanted to see Arches National Park and it would have been too long of a driving day to stop.

By evening my fever was over 100 and so first we looked for hotels… but they were more than we wanted to pay, so then we searched for campsites only to come to the realization that neither of us wanted to unpack the car, set up, take down and repack late at night or in the morning. We found a hotel just south of Arches National Park and Bryon talked them down on price. This is one of the great discoveries I have found in the last year. We spent lots of last winter in hotels for work and I always thought that their prices were fixed, but it turns out there is wiggle room when you ask for discounts. So here is the tip (if you don’t do it already)–Always ask for a discount! Not rude or pushy, but asking for a discount, or even sometimes two, really pays off.

Hot tub, hot shower, nice bed… so great. I love camping, but setting up in the dark with a fever seemed like the ‘end of the world’ last night.

The kids have been on a roll with great quotes from the back seat. Here are two I wrote down today to share.

Ian-”Lily, my butt just burped by itself”

Lily-“Look, that horse is growing a 5th leg”

So, when I pulled this picture I realized that it looks like we are disobeying the sign.  The wall is in the front.  The floor was ok to walk on.   :)

Ian, first down the ladder.  Not sure why he always sticks his tongue out, but he sure tries to everytime Bryon has the camera out.

Lily going down into the hole/room.

I don’t know who this kid is.  Bryon was just shooting the room.  His flash worked really good.  In reality, it was so dark we couldn’t see much but the ladder and the hole at the top.

A long shot of the Spruce Tree House.

Taking a picture by a window in the the Spruce Tree House.  It is still so intact…. this is good construction!

Day 32-Rim

August 2, 2011 in Minimalist Summer Vacation 2011 by Lorilee Lippincott

I woke up sore this morning. A good sore. The kids were crabby, like they might be tired, but still were running around everywhere… so they couldn’t have been that sore.

Today was the last full day of vacation. Tomorrow we start the drive back. (driving for 3 days).

We did the more touristy stuff along the rim today. First priority for the kids was finishing their junior ranger badges by going to a ranger program about birds. Ian was so proud. At Yellowstone he wasn’t old enough to do the program, but they let him do it here. He put his badge on his sleeve, like the real rangers, and showed and told everyone he could find that he was a ’junior ranger’. He even wanted to be addressed as ’Junior Ranger’ instead of Ian. Such a nut!

After walking the rim and riding all around I can say that the rim is nothing compared to hiking down in. Hiking in is hard, and dangerous, but from the rim the canyon is just too huge. To look at the canyon from the rim just looks like a picture. It is huge and nothing can be seen very well. Sure it is awesome, but so are pictures of the canyon. Hiking in gets you right by the walls, and over the edges of the different layers. You can touch the rock, feel the elevation change and see the completely different ecosystem at the bottom. … I have to say all day I just wanted to hike back down in again.

I definitely want to come back again. Next time we will plan on a much longer trip into the canyon. The rest days I want to spend will be at the bottom and not at the top. The top is full of people, souvenirs, and bad expensive food.

Speaking of people, it is so fun to see all the different people and where they come from. We have met lots from all over Europe, especially Germany and several from Asia. On the trail there were lots of people that, if I tried to say anything but ‘hi’, I just got a blank stare. I love language and culture, I can’t travel everywhere, but meeting people from all over the world is the next best thing.

This is definitely an area that I would love to live near. Not sure when or how, but I want to come back.

They needed and adult volunteer for the Bald Eagle wings.  The kids wanted Bryon, naturally, because he is bald :)  He was supposed to put them on, but I got “no, you are just going to take a picture and put it on your blog” .  … so I had to post this pic just for him.

The defining moment in Ian’s short life.  He couldn’t have been more proud.

 Walking along the rim there is lots of information and rock displays that they kids had lots of fun with.

 Ian sporting his new badge.

This is the far west edge of the park (accessible by roads).  There is a great trail that goes down to an old hiking camp and the bottom of the canyon from here that looks fun as well.  Not maintained and we have to bring a water filter.. sounds like fun!