Northwest Trek

July - August 2017
July - August 2017
  • Day16

    Troy, MI

    August 11, 2017 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Here it is in numbers. Pretty neat to look at.

    15 days

    4162 miles

    78 hours 55 minutes in the car

    4 new states

    13 states total

    4 Big Cities

    7 State Capitals

    12 different attractions (historic, natural or amusement)

    15 different restaurants.

    2 picnics

    1 cat

    4 whales

    6 antelopes

    1 seal

    Lots of birds

    Millions of tiny flies

    100s of squashed bugs

    5 friends

    gallons of gas.

    9 different beds per persons

    6 Marriott

    1 uncle brick

    1 aunt Marne

    3 cousins

    4 ski resorts

    1 condo

    1 houseboat

    3 hikes

    1 active volcano

    2 lava tubes

    7 home cooked meals

    5 pool

    2 Lakes

    2 boats

    1 ocean

    4 movies

    4 by on tape

    140 bottle of water

    5 minute rainy drives

    2 farmers markets

    2 pizzas

    30 pairs of dirty underwear

    1 raft

    5 wet bathing suits

    5 glasses wine or other sanity beverages

    2 fountains

    4 accents (spanish, indian, southern, mid-southern)

    4 dollars in tolls

    2 National Parks

    1 great Salt lake

    6 Mountain Ranges

    3 iPhones

    2 iPods

    2 iPads

    3 surface pros

    25+ postcards

    2 College campuses

    5 backpacks

    4 nationalities of food (french, Italian, Greek and Japanese)

    100s of hugs

    100s of laughs

    Trip cost: first year we didn't keep track

    Memories: priceless
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  • Day15

    Naperville, IL

    August 10, 2017 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    August 8, 2017

    Weather: 74 and sunny driving through Wyoming, 81 Naperville

    Hours Driving: 7 hours 18 min

    States Drive Thru: Nebraska Iowa and Illinois

    Miles: 496

    Restaurants:

    Movies: Dumb and Dumber

    Games:

    Books: Dunkirk (Matt), Bow Wow (Bee)

    Hotel: Mike and Marne's bed and breakfast

    Well, we had a choice today to drive all the way home and get home around 10 pm or stop through Naperville to see Mike and Marne and the kids. We would spend the night if we were welcome. We contacted them to see if it would be too much trouble since they are getting Emily ready to go to University of Missouri on Saturday. And, Mike just had shoulder surgery and it might be a hassle to have us. We get it. I don't think they'd ever say no. We have not told the kids we are going. Another surprise. We like doing that. I think they will be very happy.

    We are uneventfully driving through the fields of Iowa. It feels like a long day. I'm glad we are stopping in Naperville. I am done. I am spent. Once again eating out gets tedious.For everyone. Fortunately, we had a good couple of home cooked meals in Park City. We packed lunches in the car the past couple of days. The thought of eating out makes me ill. As it always does.

    We stopped at Mike and Marnes for the night. The kids were happily surprised. It made for a great ending to our trip. We had a great night eating and over endulging in spirits. It was a stop that felt like home. We are back on the road for home. It couldn't come faster. Apparently, our house should be complete including painting the whole downstairs. Our doors and trim should be all white. It is going to be weird. i hope we like it. When I left for the trip, my back was in pain. For months, I've struggled with it and right at the start of our trip was at its worst. Two days into the trip, gone. No pain. What the heck. I wonder if it was stress from the house. Always having people in house and making decisions and spending money. Gone. My pain was gone for the whole trip. Crazy.

    We are only a few hours from home. We are driving over a hill and the clouds on the horizon resemble the mountain ranges out west in Seattle. A little melancholy feeling of where we've been and where we are going. A fleeting memory. Now we look forward to our next trip next year. Our plan is to do the southeast, Savanna, Georgia, Charleston, South Carolina, North Carolina, DC and the Virginias. Our plan is to do it over Spring break. We'd like to do another RV trip over the summer in Michigan. I've already started looking for places to stay in the Carolinas.

    With so many things happening on our trips, it's fun to compile it into numbers to see everything we've done, seen or experienced. The next post will be It's All Numbers. Thanks for following along.
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  • Day14

    Lincoln, NE

    August 9, 2017 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    August 8, 2017

    Weather: 74 and sunny driving through Wyoming, 70s Nebraska

    Hours Driving: 12 hours

    States Drive Thru: Utah and Wyoming and Nebraska

    Miles: 860 miles

    Restaurants: Tasty BBQ

    Movies:

    Games:

    Books: Dunkirk (Matt), Bow Wow (Bee), Woof (Ben)

    Hotel: Fairfiedld inn

    As we make our way home from Utah, we climb mountain roads and descend into valleys. The landscape changes at every curve causing me to wonder why it is so different yet so close together. Green jagged mountains, strange hill-like mountains with little vegetation, mounds of sandcastle-like formations, piles of broken rock, red rock, layered rock as if we are driving through a dried up ocean floor and rock that makes you wonder how it came to be the odd shape or formation balancing on the precipice of crushing our car. Then, flatlands of gold and rolling hills of green to farmland with grazing cattle and the occasion prancing of antelope so well disguised in the brown grass. I feel blessed to be able to travel to these places and in between. I'm glad to say that "I've been there." This may be one of the greatest decisions Paul and I made for our family. Our kids truly love it and never complain about the driving or being away from home or being together. Do they fight? Do we fight? Oh yeah. All out brawls. Do we annoy each other. Oh yeah. But it's learning how to deal with it. These are learning experiences.

    What makes us very happy is to see Ben and Elizabeth and Matthew spend all these hours together playing, talking and bonding (and fighting). They are learning how to be with their boyfriends and girlfriends and husbands and wives someday. When we arrived at the condo in Utah, the kids had a loft though we had one extra bedroom which I thought Elizabeth would take. The minute the boys saw the loft with three beds, they said to Elizabeth, "you have to sleep up here with us!" She did not refuse their invitation. Love it.

    Our trip has been blessed again. Our weather as usual has been great. We have been driving in sunny skies. Even the hot weather was only one day and we were able to go to the ocean and avoid it. The only rain we've had was yesterday in Park City which was only short rain clouds (kind of like in Hawaii). Everyone loved our planned hotels and rentals which exceeded our expectations and they loved all the planned and unplanned activities. This makes me happy since i spend months planning and researching our routes. I love doing it. Paul thinks I should do it for other people and charge them. I don't know if people would want that. I think its fun. I personalized a trip for some friends from Seattle to San Diego for a 21 day trip. I found multiple hotels in each location to choose from and activities all along the way. They had a great time. I want to take that trip..

    Today we are heading for Cheyenne to see the capital and have dinner. We like to see the capital at as many locations as we can. Then we plan to drive a little further toward home.

    We stopped in Cheyenne for dinner which should have just been a drive-by. Shy Ann should just stay shy. What a blah town. Pretty capital building. We had the hardest time finding a place to eat. We stumbled across a BBQ place called Tasty BBQ. It get decent reviews. It looks as though it is below a run down motel. The definition of hole in the wall. It was pretty good food. We once again filled the table with various BBQ meats and sides. From the picture you can see that everyone must have liked it.

    From dinner we decided to drive as far as we could. While we were driving through Nebraska, we hit a storm of bugs. It sounded like rain but it was bugs splatting on the windshield. This happened on the way out to Seattle as well. My friend Michelle who has a place in North Dakota say you need this bug juice spray for your car. We didn't get it. Everyone at the gas station was scrubbing their windows. Gross. Not sure what kind of bugs. Clear juice. Hmmm. We also hit a good wall of fog when it was dark which was a little alarming though we were the only ones on the road.

    Funny story, Ben has a way of asking questions that he really hasn't put much thought into. Ben has a way of throwing out a sarcastic comment when he is not happy about what has been asked of him, then claiming he wasn't trying to be disrespectful. Maybe he wasn't or maybe he thinks we are dumb. He has a way of saying and doing things that play on Paul patience or there lack of. Yesterday, he was up between us in the car asking to do something (after we've told him to get in his seat a thousand times), by the end of the exchange, I could see Paul getting frustrated (with good reason) when Ben said something that nearly ended his life. I can't remember what it was but I immediately said, "Get back to your seat." MOtherly instinct to save her young. Paul says, "Yeah, get back to your seat quick, you are still in punching distance." We all started laughing. I am still laughing about it. Paul has this great sense of humor when he is frustrated which I think Ben likes and thinks is funny. He may even provoke Paul just to get a reaction.

    We made it to Lincoln Nebraska around midnight. Literally fell into bed and woke up this morning, had breakfast and we are back on the road. We are about 12 hours from home. Can't wait to see our dogs.
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  • Day13

    Park City, UT

    August 8, 2017 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

    Make sure you are scrolling all the way to the bottom of the page on the blog to see all of the pictures. I post at least 20 pictures the day.

    Today we started out slowly. We had breakfast and then went down to Park city main street to have a look around. Cute little town. You can tell that it's a high-end area due to the stores. Has to be amazingly bustling in the wintertime. I'd love to see it. It is beautiful in the summertime, too. Lots of restaurants and little shops. It took us a while to find Park city village where the kids activities are. Apparently we drove right past it at one point. How we missed it I have no idea. At one point, we ended up at another ski village. We asked for directions and worked our way back to Park city Village. There are lots of summer visitors there. They have a ton of summer activities like a bungy jumper, a putt putt golf, adventure climbing, alpine slide, zip lines, a Mountain bike course, and an Alpine coaster. We were looking for the Alpine coaster. I've always wanted to do that. When we bought our tickets to go on it, a rain storm started and they closed the ride. So we got our money back. I was bummed. It wasn't a long storm so I was hopeful that we cold go back little bit later in the day.

    We explored a little bit around town. Around our condo there is a lot of shopping. There's also a Tanger outlet right near us, too. They've got everything around here. We also found our way up to Olympic Park Village. So glad we did. It was really cool. It's actually the park that we can see from our condo deck. It's where the 2002 Olympics were and where they still train. It was so cool. They had summer ski jumps into a pool. Those skiers are nuts. They hit the water like a ton of bricks. They hit the water as hard as you hit the snow in a jump. Every time a skier hit the water everyone moaned. They also have a bobsled that you can go on that is the Olympic bobsled run. It was closed because of the rain. We went back to the condo and relaxed for a little bit. We taught the kids how to play euchre. It was fun. Before dinner we decided to go back to Park city and see if we could ride the Alpine coaster.

    It was up and running. You get into this open air sled like thing that takes you up the track all the way up the mountain. As high as the ski lift. Then it roller coasters you to the bottom of using gravity. Elizabeth and I went together because I thought it would be more fun to be laughing with someone on it with you. And it was. Paul and Matthew were together and Ben went alone. It was so freaking fun. You have control of the speed using a break. But I vowed not to touch the break on the coaster. It was so much fun. It's a pretty long ride and Elizabeth and I were laughing so hard. Our stomachs were aching as if we were doing sit ups. I could go on that 100 times. The kids also did the bungee jumping trampoline. I don't think they loved it that much. Cool little village with lots to do.

    At home Paul grilled up some ribs, potatoes and vegetables for dinner to a sunsetting Mountain background. We had a great day. Utah is so beautiful. Tomorrow we are off for home. We're just gonna drive and and see how far we want to go and then stop. This is where we start to get homesick. Probably because we know it's a long ride home. Any guesses where I think we might stop. We have no idea yet.
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  • Day12

    Park City, UT

    August 7, 2017 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    August 7, 2017

    Weather: 85 and sunny (Salt lake) 78 (Park Ctiy)

    Hours Driving: 2 hours

    States Drive Thru: Utah

    Miles: 19 miles

    Restaurants:

    Movies:

    Games: Family Game of The Office - Make a Sale (made by Ben, Bee and Matt)

    Books:

    Hotel: Powderwood Condo

    I was so tired last night that I didn't write. So I am writing from our Condo in Park City with views of the mountains from our deck including the Olympic ski park. We can see the ski jumps and whatever the other horrifying ski runs on the side of the mountain are with the 2002 Olympic logo on them. The condo is really nice. 3 bedrooms 2 baths. It is perfect. The kids love the three bed loft above the living room.

    So, yesterday morning, I convinced everyone that we had to visit the Great Salt Lake. I needed to see if I can float. I don't normally float. Elizabeth does not normally float. Matthew does not normally float. Apparently, everyone can float in the Great Salt Lake. From reviews, they say the best place to view and swim in the salt lake is from Antelope Island. It is about 30 minutes outside of the city, north. What a strange place to be. We drove on a road that cuts through the crystallized dried up salt beds. The lake used to come all the way up to the edge of the mountain range covering the city. The salt in the lake is nine times that of the ocean. Surprisingly there are lots of birds everywhere but there are also a lot of tiny flies. They don't bite. The Seagulls would run across the sand with their mouths open disturbing the flies on the sand and eating them as they fled his open mouth. Elizabeth found this great sport running around disturbing the flies. (Not eating them.)

    After visiting the visitor center, we made our way to the beach area. Once at the beach, you literally had to walk a 1/2 mile to the waters edge. First, there is soft beach sand, then a more packed down dry crunchier sand. The water is surprisingly clear and inviting, though only a few people are actually in it which makes it feel a little eerie. You'd expect such a place to have people enjoying a beach day but most of the people wandered quietly. Off in the distance, you could see a few heads bobbing up and down, another 100 feet out. You have to go out pretty far to get deep enough to float. The water was warmer than I thought it would be. We were warned by squeamish reviewers that the water is filled with brine shrimp. You could see them if you looked closely. They are tiny. Nothing matches the red tide that Paul and the kids swam in in Rhode Island. They were covered in red algae from head to toe and in the pockets of their suits. Disgusting and smelly. This was nothing like that. In certain areas of viewing the Great Salt Lake, you will smell a dead fishy odor but nothing like the leaked bone broth in our car on this trip. It smells like a dead mouse. (I use the bone broth as part of my diet.) Ooops sorry.

    We waded out deep enough to float. Mind you, I don't like to swim in lakes, oceans and other bodies of water. I needed to do this and check it off my bucket list. The Dead Sea is next. Matthew went first. HE FLOATS! Ben went next. Then me. I FLOAT! Even with my head up. I didn't want to put my head in the salt water. ELIZABETH FLOATS! IF you taste it, it tastes like the salt water you gargle with for a sore throat if you over saturate the glass of water. It makes you want to spit it out. Gross. This time Paul chose not to participate in the float experiment. Though, he did wade in with us. On the walk back to the showers, the salt started to crystallize on our skin. The hairy you are, the more the salt crystallized on the hairs. Matthew has fine little white hairs all over him and the salt was visible on them. It was a neat experience. I don't know if the flies and shrimp are worse at times but they were not an issue for us at all. They don't bite either.

    After going to a couple of Costcos for meals for our next stop that is a condo (and I was in search of this great gluten free bread we found here that they don't have back home), we headed for Park City which is 30 minutes east of Salt Lake. Our car has been running hard in the mountains making us very nervous. We had Onstar run a diagnostic and they see nothing wrong. It is sluggish up the hills. We were told to take this scenic route out of Park City but we are too nervous to add more stress on the car. The mountains are rough. We will see.

    We love the little condo we are in just on the outskirts of town. Last night, we had a home cooked meal and played a game of "The Office", the one the kids made. Today, we will go into Park City and explore. We just finished breakfast. I'll let you know what we do today later. Signing out from Park City, Utah
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  • Day11

    Salt Lake City, UT

    August 6, 2017 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    August 5, 2017

    Weather: 92 and sunny

    Hours Driving: 30 minutes

    States Drive Thru: Utah

    Miles: 19 miles

    Restaurants: Aristo Greek Cuisine, Harmons Grocery Store

    Movies:

    Games:

    Books:

    Hotel: Fairfield Inn Salt Lake City South Marriott

    What a GREAT day! It''s going to sound like we ran around crazy all day but it was such a calm, smooth, fun day. After breakfast we headed out to do another hike up another big hill/mountain in Salt Lake City called Ensign Park. It seemed similar to the one we did the day before which caused the kids to look at us like, "Are you joking? Again?" We said trust us and they did. This one was longer and harder than the last (Camel's Back). The views got better and better as we climbed. It took us about 45 minutes to climb Ensign Peak. The view was spectacular of the city, the mountains and off in the distance the Great Salt Lake. The kids are really getting into this hiking and are quite proud of themselves when we are done.

    We drove to the University of Utah campus to have a look around because our neighbors, the Radacky's kids go there. I should say, Max has been there for 2 years and now Caroline is going there this Fall. We are very close with Caroline and I wanted to see where she is going to school. It is a really nice campus surrounded by mountains. It is beautiful. It is a very doable campus and surrounding area. We also saw the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics flame at the football stadium. We searched around for lunch somewhere. We were trying to find a place that wasn't burger and fries and somewhere that wasn't $100 for a meal. We went downtown in search and found a great grocery store called harmon's that had lots of pre-made foods.

    We grabbed some lunch and headed for a park. We couldn't find it on foot and ended up on a bench watched the Tour de Utah bike race which happened to be going on while we were there.

    Paul without thinking tossed a chunk of mushroom into the street. I scolded him. Then it became comical and stressful because the racers were coming down the street in packs of 40 or more right toward the mushroom. It could have turned into an episode of Seinfeld. We waited for a biker to hit the mushroom and wipe out. Probably not possible but added to our suspense of the riders going by. See the video. No one ever hit the mushroom.

    The guy at the grocery store recommended we go to Snowbird mountain ski resort because it is so beautiful and only 30 minutes away. Gorgeous! The drive up was beautiful and inside the resort was breathtaking. The weather is so beautiful that it is hard to believe people ski here. We took the Peruvian Ski lift up the mountain which was an open chairlift that is pretty frightening. It is so high. When we got to the top, we had to hike up to the tram down. We had flip flops on and shorts and tshirts. The temperature was 20 degrees cooler at the top and the hike up to the tram (which they said was an easy hike) was harder than Ensign Peak. WTHike. It was an amazing switchback hike through wild flowers and amazing vistas. So glad we did it but it was a challenge especially in flip flops. The most shocking thing to us Michigan skiers is that people actually ski down the hiking paths were on. Crazy. I would be scared I'd go off the cliff. See pictures. The tram ride down wasn't as exciting as the chairlift up though it was warmer. What a fun day.

    We went back to the hotel so the kids could have a swim before dinner. When we were looking for restaurants for lunch, we came upon this Greek restaurant on campus called Aristos. It was closed for lunch so we decided to go there for dinner. Our neighbor Caroline said she ate there and liked it. It looked great. On the way, we were lucky enough (or not) to come across the Salt Lake City Zombie march. Weird.

    Aristo is a stylish restaurant with an outdoor patio and a nicer indoor space. We ate outside. The weather was perfect. We decided to order for the kids since it was a Mediterranean style restaurant. We filled the table with saganaki, hummace, lamb tacos, chicken kabobs, Greek mussels, a flight of gyros and ended with baklava and rice pudding. Everything was delicious. We also had a Greek wine with a story. The wine has a hint of pine. The waiter really enjoys the wine and wanted to give us a history story about it. He said that when the Greeks were fighting in a war and lost, they would have to give up their food and wine to the enemy but they did not want them to enjoy the wine so they took pine needles and put them in the wine to ruin the flavor. It later became a wine tradition. They said the wine is an acquired taste but I did not find it offensive. It was nice. You can taste the hint of pine. The whole meal experience was great. The whole day was perfect. And a little unexpected. I love Utah. Neat place.

    Tomorrow, we head out to Park City Utah for a couple of days. Can't wait. i love the mountains
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