My Travel Philosophy

“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” – Saint Augustine

Friday, December 2, 2011

2011 Vacations in Review (Pt 1)

2011, overall, was a very painful year with more bad memories than good.  However, there were some travels and celebrations that are also memorable.  My blogs were neglected during most of the year, though, as I struggled to regain my equilibrium following the loss of my Dad.  Before the year is over, therefore, I want to capture as many of the memories as possible.

Other than driving back and forth to Rice Lake a lot during January, we didn't go anywhere but did enjoy the celebration of Ian's birthday with a party.  We started with some really good food playing at Ian's house, and then we moved to the bowling alley for an afternoon of good competition, birthday cake, and opening presents!

In mid-February, we took a trip to Las Vegas -- joined by Peg & Len and Mike & Debbie.  We all stayed at the Flamingo and enjoyed some good weather!   On one of the evenings, we went to see a murder mystery dinner at the Fitz -- and it was hysterically funny!  Jeff got to be an ambulance attendant, and the food was actually good, too.  We gambled all over town and, for a change, I won almost continuously playing blackjack.  Mike and Debbie had a free room at the Flamingo (one of Peg's comps) -- and it wasn't worth the price!  Very, very small and you couldn't even get into the bathroom.  Really funny (but they switched rooms the next day).  We had a really big room and used it kind of like a party room with drinks and snacks before we went out each night.

Ben was playing a golf tournament in St. George, Utah and we decided to all pile into Debbie's car (6 of us in a car designed for 5 people) and drove up for the day.  It was a beautiful day and a beautiful view of the mountains around St. George.  We made a stop in Mesquite to gamble and have lunch, but our luck was not to great there.

A really fun trip!

Our annual Wisconsin Dells birthday weekend was the second weekend in March and, as always, a totally fun time.  It's fun for the kids to all be staying together so there's plenty of playing and snacking, and being able to go to the water park just down the hall makes it a special weekend.

We decided to drive out to Utah in early May to attend Ben's college graduation and just have a fun journey, in general.  The drive out was boring (of course) as we passed through miles and miles of nothing, but staying in Layton for a few days was really fun.  Mike and Jeff went golfing while Debbie and I went shopping, then we all worked together to get things ready for the graduation.

Despite rushing to get to graduation, we were way too late and completely missed the ceremony.  Problem:  Ben hadn't planned to go at all and decided at the last minute that he wanted to "walk".  So, I asked a nice young man if Ben could borrow his cap, gown, and diploma just so we could get a nice photograph which really worked out great.  We got a good picture, had fun in the process, and didn't have to sit through the graduation ceremony.  Then, we went to a local bar for a drink.

When we left Layton, we headed up to Yellowstone and found that much of the park was still covered with snow.  In fact, it started snowing while we were there.  We stayed the night in Jackson Hole, and then had the best day we've ever had at Yellowstone.  Probably due to the cold weather, there were more animals moving around than I've ever seen and many were very, very close.  The first excitement was seeing a pair of moose in the river.

As we moved through the park, the rushing water in the rivers was beautiful due to the high water, and the geysers were really steamy.  We had lunch at Old Faithful Inn (somewhere that I definitely want to stay at some point in the future), and went out to catch the geyser.  It was "faithful":  right on time.  Hard to get good pictures, though, because that hot water hit the cold air and the whole area was blanketed in steam.

The number of buffalo reassures me that they are no longer an endangered species.  There were hundreds of them -- mostly right up on or near the road.  In some cases, traffic (light though it was) had to come to a complete halt while the buffalo slowly moved across the road.  It was especially cute to see the little ones.  Since it's Spring, there were quite a number of newborns, which you don't see when you're here later in the summer.

Not sure how many types of animals we saw:  buffalo, moose, elk, mule deer, mountain sheep, Jeff saw a bear, and we saw a wolf -- which I thought was the coolest of all.  I even got a necklace at the gift shop with a wolf on it as a reminder!

The route that we wanted to take East out of the park was closed earlier in the day due to snow so, instead of heading across Wyoming, we went up through Montana.  In the end, it turned out to be a really cool choice!

More to come in Part 2...

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