parking with a view…

Breezy, balmy views and the glam of the city lights find us in our latest stop. As we basked in the breathtaking views of Lake Mead, with the glittering lights of Vegas hovering just in the background.

After a summer of National Parks overload, and overwhelming beauty. We decided to come back to “civilization” and have the amenities of the big city. Though we have travel and stopped here before, we had never explored the nature side of this area. Lake Mead has proven to be a gem and full of history ready to explore. Hoover Dam provided a thrill from its grand engineering to the historical importance to the area. Of course, we were overwhelmed by its size because plainly its “dam” big (ok – I had to do at least one “dam” joke!!)

We decided to venture into Vegas – to show the more “PG” side of the city to the kids, their buildings and well all the “bigness” of everything at least deserved a peek. Our kids’ reactions, however, were priceless. After several hours of walking – the sights and smells were more than enough that all three agreed that they had enough and were ready to leave. Guess its back to nature for us!

Another great place that has been enjoyed by the family is Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area – (in Henderson, NV). Over 48,000 acres of land that has preserved what archeologists believe to be 300 rock panels that may contain 1,500 petroglyphs native cultures from the Archaic to the historical era. Keith best put it to the kids, ” it’s the original graffiti of Native American.”

So our big city stop has been both enlighting and yet still relaxing. We are looking forward to our next stopped as we look forward to reconnecting with old friends.

“Remember It’s Not Just the Destination, It’s the Joy of the Journey. “

ohh Utah…how we’ll miss the views!!!

As we wrap up our time in this unique, beautiful, and rugged state of Utah, the craving to explore it further is already seeping its way into our beings. The last two months that we have meander throughout this state has broadened our horizons in ways that, indeed no other place has so far in our journey.

All good things must come to “somewhat” of an end as the saying goes — our spring-summer of National Parks, State Parks, National Monuments, and breathtaking drives, etc. Now we start to wind down to a “normal” nomad journey as they say. Our kids have embraced and (let’s face it whined) through more than a few hikes. My photo “cloud” it’s screaming from the overload of thousands of pictures taken of our walks and vistas. I am sure we have overwhelmed all of you too.

In all the beauty and amazing things we do; however, we want to take a moment and acknowledge the “real moments of life too.” – We live everyday life: work, routines, and deal with aches, and pains like most of of our loved ones do. Kids have bad days, fight with each other, and with us. At times “blogs and social media” may glamorize life on the road “a bit more perfect than it is,” and though we are so grateful for the incredible journey the Lord has placed us on, we still do live a normal life and deal with everyday issues.

It also helps us to look out not only to the things that are around us but to those that are in need and how to help them and facilitate help for them. As we watch the current natural disasters that are affecting the Atlantic Basin, we hope and pray that you will join us in the efforts to help them via Samaritan Purse.

We have also updated our website and added a new page to feature the work that we do with Justice & Mercy International.

The Narrows

Our last stop in our visit through Utah was Zion National Park. We started our park exploration with a breathtaking hike of the legendary hike of “The Narrows” through Virgin River, and it’s slot canyons. For me(Merari), that has been as much as I have been able to do in this beautiful park(when your sciatic nerve decides to act up!!- well that’s it is all that you can do). Keith and kids have had the joy of doing the rest of the exploring.

Here are some of the hikes and site-seeing:

Remember It’s Not Just the Destination, It’s the Joy of the Journey.

pictures worth…a thousand words..

Capitol Reef National Park, how to describe something that has left us so speechless. So I won’t try, here are the facts about Capitol Reef National Park: Its located in south- central Utah, it became a National Monument in 1937 and formally a National Park in 1971. It is roughly 100 miles long by 20 miles wide. Its terrain – not the easiest to move around and for majority of the park high clearance vehicles are advisable. You should also enjoy extensive hiking and climbing when considering this park. However, the vista are worth the work of the hikes/climbs…here is our picture collage of Capitol Reef National Park:

a little bit of city…Salt Lake City

So after we have traverse throughout the “less traveled sides” of states such as MT, WY, SD, etc., we wanted the kids to have a bit of a break before we continue on our binge of National Parks. So we did a short hop to Salt Lake City (SLC) not really knowing what to expect.

 

The bustling metropolis, (Utah – most populous and capital city) is beautifully city located amid an expanse valley in the middle of two mountain range. So no matter where you are in the town, and I mean regardless where you are – if you glance out of a window, stop and look up in your parking spot, the view is overwhelming. Though, I would gather that for those that live in SLC full time or are natives,  I wonder if they have grown used to this breathtaking vistas.

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Library Day!!

In the short time that we were there, we were able to take in “big city” museum, movies, library, tons of restaurants, but were also able to take advantage some of the great natural beauty that is just on the outskirts of town. We visited the National Forest, which was just a short drive from us for several great hikes (Wasatch National Forest).

 

The kids enjoyed the benefits of “civilization” as they call it (better known as fast food) and had it as often as we would give in. Natural History Museum was by far their favorite.

 

 

We also were able to connect with a fabulous local body of believers that welcomed us and made us feel part of their family which always makes our stays such a highlight in any new town – so if you need a place to worship while in the area don’t hesitate to check out Sandy Ridge Church.

We were glad to have made this stop, but not going to lie after months of being in smaller towns and more secluded parts of our beautiful country it was at times “a bit overwhelming” to be in a big city again…so off we go again to small towns and more beautiful National parks… Capitol Reef – next stop!!!

 

 

“Remember is not just the Destination, is the Joy of the Journey.”

Also, keep up with our “shorter update on our FaceBook- updates follow” the link at the top of the page!!!

 

 

Yellowstone…the great adventure

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We hope that our mini updates have been helpful to keep everyone up to date with our big adventure and continued journey. This stop has definitely been a “once in a lifetime” experience feel for us.  Not to say that we would not stop by and visit again (and again!!) this beautiful area (though we may think about a warmer month!!).

Our kids were amazed how much they’ve enjoyed the experience of the National Park, (though if I am honest when you do three weeks of nature – even the best of kids start to roll their eyes when they see another bison blocking the road.)

The animals have been so thrilling and not just for our kids. When we first entered the park, we were handed the “kids checklist” of Yellowstone animals. We made it a fun family competition and challenge (you want to get fed for the day – find mama an “exotic” animal – seems that getting fed “ups the score” and lots of animal sightings happened). Seeing bison and their babies (called “red dogs”) to otters, coyote, a far (thank goodness) grizzly bear, lots of Elk (including a few bucks), birds of prey, one lonely moose and darting so fast across the road that we almost miss it – an American Marten (I got fed for that one!!!).

We are blessed that our prolonged time in the area gave us the time and leisure to go through the park at our own pace and did our best to avoid the beginning of the tourist crowds. We have been able to see a majority of the entirety of the monumental National Park which (which on average of the summer months can see 850K+ visitors). Some areas we have not been able to see due to colder temps that are still lingering about (even in June- when some snow can be seen in our pictures). Some passes and areas are still not open (or open and close again due to the weather).

Overall, this still feels like a monumental experience, a park that spans three states (Wyoming, Montana, and parts of Idaho), since we were so close, we also made a day trip to the Grand Teton National Park which is just south of the Park (and beautiful all on its own right). 

We will now head into civilization for a bit to get reacquainted with humans and then continue in our National Park bonanza for the summer as we explore the beauties that await in Utah!!!

Remember is not just the Destination, but the Joy of the Journey”

vision…expansion…and remembrance

As we continue our journey west, we venture into the beautiful Black Hills area of South Dakota…there is so much to see here that one stop could not encompass all its richness and beauty. So we stuck with the top highlights…

Of course, the month of May brings a few birthdays that I would be remiss not to mention. Ella and Xavier both celebrated birthdays, and this year while on the road we decided to focused on life experiences vs. “things” to have during these milestones… Each, of course, picked widely different ways to celebrate, Ella’s 15th birthday was celebrated both with a visit to the local hair salon for a bit of “color highlights” and a sophisticated breakfast treat at a local hip coffee house. While Xavier’s 11th birthday, had an all “banana” day and a visit to a local favorite Reptile Museum to delight in all things that slither (sigh…mom REALLY, REALLY!!! doesn’t like these, but pushed through with lots of prayers to make him happy)…

Now, as a child in P.R., and then coming to Miami at a young age I spent many hours reading, and watching so many historical documentaries (i.e., National Geographic, PBS Specials, etc.)…so as we approached this leg of our journey anticipation had begun to build up… So many of these National Parks and Monuments have been more of a “theoretical dream,” than a reality… I have to completely admit as we drove up to the road that led up to Mt. Rushmore, I was excited and trying to explain this to my kids. It was hard to put into words but then I look and the Monument popped into my peripheral view, I was speechless for a few minutes. Something that I had seen in pictures so many times was there right in front of me (I know that’s silly to some). It truly humbles me all that God’s has allowed me to see and experience through this life-changing Journey.

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Mt. Rushmore is a National Monument (Sculpted by Gutzon Borglum), which was created to commemorate the “founding, growth, preservation, and development of the United States.” This effort came at a time when the country was at the brink of a recession (the project design began in 1925). The project gave hope to the local community as it employed over 400 men and women for more than 14 years that would have otherwise gone in need.

Another great local achievement and a must see is the “ongoing building” of the monument to Native Americans and hero, Crazy Horse. This significant undertaking began in the 1940s when Chief Henry Standing Bear contacted Korczak Ziolkowski (who was the assistant to Gutzon Borglum during the Mt. Rushmore project). The project was taken up by Korczak and his family (which to this day continue his work). Unlike the other monument in the area, this is a privately funded monument so that the integrity and vision of the project would be followed through to the end. On-site, they house a Native American History Museum, Studio, and are also funding a University and a Medical Center for the local tribes. This vision and homage to the local community remind me that even when we have not always treated all as we should in our history, we can, however, look into the future and recognize the beauty of others.

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Lastly, whether we were on mountain tops or delving 34-floor stories into the earth (Jewels Cave National Monument) to see how intricate God’s creation can be, once again, though I do not like to be in enclosed spaces, I “sucked it up” and went deep down in the earth to see the “jewel” of a wonder. Jewel Cave, currently is the third longest cave in the world at 200(+) miles of mapped passages ways (which get updated every few weeks as survey teams head out to explore every 4-6 weeks). They are called “Jewel Cave” for their “calcite” crystals which lined the cave and glitter.

 

“Remember is just not the Destination, but the Joy of the Journey!!!”

Gateway to the West….

 

My family laughs at my “epiphany” that though on the road for almost a year, my mind finally feels like the “real adventure” is about to commence!!! We are finally heading to areas that have been “unknown to me.” Above all, years of planning are finally coming to fruition, and it is both thrilling and daunting…

Our first stop was St. Loius.. we were pleasantly surprise not only by the diversity of both history and modern commodities. A perfect example of such which we loved is Forest Park (https://forestparkmap.org):
* Opened in 1876
* Host of 1904 World’s Fair
* Free
* 1,300 acres
* 6th most visited U.S. urban park
* Has several Museums on its expansive Grounds

 


Another life-changing stop was the Gateway Arch. For many of you, that know our family. Y’all know that we are a combination of height challenged and enclosed space issues. Though I have struggled with enclosed spaces (better known as claustrophobia all my life). I truly didn’t want to miss the view from the top of this majestic monument…so with God who is bigger than my fear and a willing son to tag along. I rode the 4-minute ride to the top of the Arch in what is best described as a seat in an “escape pod” in your best SciFi movie flick. And was graced with beautiful views and added a life experience to our journey…

 

If you have never had a chance to stop in this beautiful monument, you may want to add it to your “bucket list,” here are some great facts about it:
Gateway Arch celebrates the diverse people who shaped the region and the country. The dreamer, Thomas Jefferson, negotiated the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, doubling the size of the United States. The explorers, Lewis & Clark and their Shoshone guide Sacagawea, scouted the new territory and mapped a route to the Pacific Ocean. The challengers, Dred, and Harriet Scott filed suit at the Old Courthouse for their freedom from slavery, and St. Louis suffragette Virginia Minor sued for women’s right to vote. The artist, architect Eero Saarinen, designed the monument that honors them all.

 

The Gateway Arch is 630 feet high, making it the tallest man-made monument in the United States. It is as wide as it is tall. We don’t know if it is also the widest monument. Today, up to 6,700 visitors per day take the 4-minute Tram Ride to the Top. There is also a comprehensive historical museum at the bottom of the Arch about the history of the area.

A fun little stop if you have a family was City Museum (https://www.citymuseum.org)… best way to describe this unique museum: the biggest, most “eclectic architectural” playground for both the young and young at heart…

 

 

Remember is just not the destination, but the joy of the Journey!!!

last few months…are a blur

Thank you for all the prayers and support… The last few months have gone by in a blur… we blinked, and now it’s Spring… So we had a lovely time in our winter spot of sunny FL…while there we finished our stay with a Full-Time Family Rally (70 families the Rv full time gather to share fellowship and information about this lifestyle)…it was a fast-paced week with lots of information, fun activities and lots and lots of kids…

Then we bee-line to Nashville, TN where we met up with JMI for a great face to face meeting about our work with their ministry, and possible things to come soon… We also got to explore the contemporary city, eat lots of great food and saw some beautiful sunrises while staying by the water…

We zigzag through the mountains, may I say through some might tight roads for our mighty big “bus” to get to see family in our Georgia stop…

We made it back to Maryland for our medical must… and will be heading west next.. so stay tuned. We are so excited for what is to come…

Remember is just not the destination but the enjoy the journey!!!

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faith, trust, and a little bit of pixie dust!!!(yeah we went there…)

If you didn’t guess it by the title…we took the plunge and while in our whirl wind stay in FL this winter we stopped in that magical place…and yes as many of you my friends know… I had promised never to set foot in Disney ever again… my kiddos when young had screamed their way through almost every ride (not one, twice, but three times…) I was quite happy never to experience that again…

My loving and patient hubby said, just wait when they get older this too shall pass… (insert eye roll from me)… but yet again I get to notify the press that he came up right…(oh I will never live it down…insert another eye roll)… so after much wearing me down, we contacted family friend and Disney expert Michaela Nuckels at Simply Magical Vacations.

She smoothly and expertly handled all the reservations for us, from our stay at Fort Wilderness Camping Lodge RV Campground and to our Park passes (set up fast passes to ride) and all that entails… she could have done so much more but I was overwhelmed enough… (but seriously) if Disney is in your sites contact Michaela (she truly will make it so easy… its like “magic”)…

So we settled into the Fort Wilderness with some minor mechanical issues which the Disney Courtesy welcome patrol immediately took care off. Still “Magical” people…then we got ourselves all ready for the adventure…

Our first day at the parks was Epcot:(and everyone was rearing to go!!)

We took a mid afternoon break… (and long nap…yeah not going to lie we slept like babies) then headed back for the evening lights and fun…(Frozen by far was my favorite ride, though the consensus for the rest of the family was “Test Track”… lammo “petrol-heads”…

We rested up well… drank a quadruple espressos in the morning and off we went to Magical Kingdom the next day… while we waited for the boat ride to arrive, Duncan entertained us with his amazing “sock puppet” expertise and by this I mean (he found a lost and forgotten sock in his coat pocket and proceeded to preform)…never a dull moment in our house…

But really we did have a lovely day and the best highlights from this entire trips are as follow… Keith’s aunt and uncle graciously came along and kept us company at the parks, listened to our kids, regaled them with Keith’s childhood stories and Keith’s uncle “fun” cop stories … other highlights…Keith and I were able to reminisce about our beginnings … a long, long time ago we went to something called “GradNite” where Senior High Graduates got to spend a late night in Disney…in what was that faithful night our relationship began to flourish from friendship to courtship…(let’s just say the “Haunted House” especially holds dear memories…)

yes… it was a great few days… I am glad we did it… we probably had our fill and are set until grand babies come around… but are grateful for the great family memories we did make…as Mr. Walt Disney said, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible”… and for me that was to go and enjoy Disney again!!!

Remember enjoy not just your destination but the Journey there…

too much fun…in the sun!!!

our time with family and friends has kept us going and I have neglected to keep our humble journal of our journey up to date…

we zoomed back and forth between Vero and Miami for the holidays… and “mooch” docking at a family front yard…(gave Keith’s old neighborhood something to talk about for weeks)

Hanging out in front of Keith’s mom’s house…

our kids (and us) have been blessed to have made sweet memories… here a but a few samples of those…

after moving a little further up the coast… we made a short stop in St. Augustine (the Oldest continuous lived in city in the US)… though there were lots to see and definitely lots of “historical sites”…though I am not going to lie we were a bit surprised at how “tourist and commercial” the city was…(maybe we have been spoiled by those historical areas that have been so pristinely preserved…) but I will let each person make up their own mind….

Keith and I even managed to sneaked out for a date night…

our South Florida travels gave us great weather for the holidays… and great memories with family… not often you get to spend Christmas Day basking in the sun and sand…our pups so far are getting used to the road and at times think they “own the bus”…

so family and friends stay tuned… we did take a little detour to a “magical place”… but for those details, stay tune for our next blog…

see y’all along the way…