Home Sweet Home – November 2, 2014

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We made it back to Gloucester late Thursday night. We’ve since experienced more weather in New England than we did all the way around the country! Great to be home for the home cooking (:-)) and the famous New England weather.

A quick reflection on our wonderful trip: we appreciate that our country is filled with so much beauty, and we are so lucky to have so many special areas to visit and learn from. Sharing some of these places with family and friends has been a real joy for us over the past month. Thanks for traveling with us, and we hope you enjoyed the ride as much as we did!

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Bob and Cindy – Greensburg, PA- October 29, 2014

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After a big push eastward with lots of driving (from Saturday until Tuesday), we arrived in Greensburg, PA at brother Bob and Cindy’s home. It was great to be together, to visit with some of Cindy’s family, and to see our nephew Bob again. We all got together for dinner Tuesday night, with an incredible chocolate cake compliments of Mrs. Harold, Cindy’s mom. On Wednesday, Bob and Cindy took us to Ligonier Country Club, where we had a great round of golf. It was nice to visit their beautiful home, as we don’t often get out their way. Thanks for everything, guys! We loved catching up and spending time together, as always.

Driving into Pennsylvania, we experienced more of the fall weather to which we are accustomed, with foliage disappearing and cooler temperatures. Today is the last leg of our journey, with a stop to visit Kim’s mother in CT, then a final push home tonight. We’ll write one last post once we are back home again. Can’t believe our journey is coming to an end!

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Soaring Eagle Lodge – Navajo Dam, New Mexico – October 24, 2014

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On Thursday we drove south to Navajo Dam, New Mexico, to visit with Pete’s college friend, former corporate exec-gone-fishing guide Larry Johnson. Larry and his fiancé Leslie own and operate the Soaring Eagle Lodge, which offers some of the finest trout fishing in the southwestern USA.

Leslie and Larry provided us with the royal treatment, from excellent accommodations to a successful guided fishing trip on the San Juan River. Most importantly, we shared good company and friendship over two days. It didn’t hurt that they also had three beautiful black labs- Sage, Gus and Niamh- who gave us a huge dose of Labrador retriever love!

We went up to Durango, Colorado, just over the border, for dinner on our last evening, then headed east on Saturday morning for the final push home. We plan on stopping to visit Kim’s brother Bob and his wife Cindy,in Greensburg, PA, along the way.

Larry and Leslie, we can’t thank you enough for the great time, and for your wonderful hospitality. We’re lucky to have such great friends!

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Zion National Park, Utah – October 22, 2014

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Zion National Park

Continuing with sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s, we left Bryce and drove two hours into Zion National Park. No letdown here in terms of scenery and natural beauty! Zion was quite different from Bryce; the sandstone rock formations were much larger, and water and wind erosion had carved out the walls of the canyon rather than individual rocks. Also, in Bryce we were looking down from the rim, but in Zion we drove down into the canyon and viewed the sights looking up.

We took three different hikes – Watchman trail, the Narrows and the Emerald trail. All showed us scenery from distinct parts of Zion Canyon. As the afternoon wore on, the light on the rock formations changed the colors before our eyes- giving us
different but equally stunning views of the same rock formations. One could understand why the Morman settlers named this area Zion after a heavenly place mentioned in the Bible. An incredible spot, not to be missed.

We continue to love this part of the U.S. Judy, you grew up in a beautiful area!

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Bryce Canyon- October 21, 2014

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This has been the toughest post yet- too much beautiful scenery to include in one post! We had a hard time choosing pictures, because the views were so incredible. But here we go….

After a two day drive, we entered the Dixie National Forest on the way to Bryce Canyon. We drove through the beautiful Red Rock Canyon formations, and we were still eight miles outside of the national park. Once inside, we walked up to the canyon rim and were blown away by the rock formations below. It was like entering another world, having the whole canyon open up below us. We took a lovely hike through the canyon. A particular difference with this park, however, was that we could walk right through the rock formations as we hiked down into the canyon and back up again. We took the Queen’s Garden Trail and the Navajo Loop Trail, in a part of the park called the Amphitheater.

The colors of the rocks were brilliant. The many individual rock formations, called hoodoos, were spectacular. FYI, hoodoos are formed when rock is eroded by water and ice, leaving massive slabs of standing sedimentary rock. They look like people, with large heads. We walked through notable rock formations and tunnels such as Wall Street, Thor’s Hammer, and many others. The blue sky formed a magnificent backdrop to these amazing rocks. Again, the pictures don’t do justice to the beauty of this area.

Tom M., you were absolutely right about Bryce being an incredible place, and we can see why you picked this as your favorite stop on your trip. This country continues to amaze us by its beauty at every stop!

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Portland, Oregon – October 18, 2014

L1000914L1000916L1000928L1000921Today we drove out of the Olympic peninsula to Portland, via Rte 5. We hoped to see Mt. Saint Helen, but the clouds denied us a view again. We arrived in Portland late afternoon, stopping in to visit with Chris Sullivan, a fellow sign supplier and good friend. We missed Tiffany, Chris’ wife, who was rowing in Boston at the Head of the Charles. Chris stepped up and did a great job showing us around Portland and entertaining us. Had a wonderful tour and nice dinner at the Fish House. Thanks again, Chris – it was great to see you!

We followed Chris’ recommendation and stopped in to see the Bonneville Dam on our way to Boise the next morning. Very interesting to check out the locks, the dam and hydroelectric plant. We watched the “fish ladders”, steps that were engineered to help the salmon and other fish return upstream on the Columbia River to spawn. Fascinating visit! We will be driving for the next two days as we head to southern Utah and the Bryce/Zion area. The weather looks to be heating up, temps as high as 80 degrees. Pete is really planning on buying shorts now!

P.S. Meredith, we are still enjoying your hermits along the way. Many thanks again!

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Olympic National Park – October 17, 2014

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This morning we took the ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles, on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state. The weather was predicted to be very rainy, and it changed some of our plans. We had to bypass Hurricane Ridge due to high winds and no visibility. We had a nice ride along Lake Crescent as we headed over to the Pacific coast on Highway 101. At last, we made it all the way across the country!

The rugged coastline was spectacular, with giant sea stacks and driftwood consisting of huge logs and tree trunks. It was quite different from our sandy coastline. The waves seemed much more ominous than our seas back home, and the winds howled. We visited the Hoh rain forest, and our pictures did not do justice to the colors of the moss and undergrowth we found there. It rained on and off constantly during the afternoon, and we could appreciate why this beautiful area is indeed considered a rain forest.

We passed through Forks, for those of you loved the Twilight series. No vampires, however! Finishing our drive, we arrived at the Lake Quinault Lodge, located in the Quinault rain forest. We had a relaxing evening, great food, and then it rained all night.

Saturday morning we took a couple of short hikes (Mimi, thinking of you!)  to view the gigantic trees of this area – Sitka spruce, Douglas Fir, and Western Red Cedar. These trees can be up to 1000 years old, and they were impressive. It truly was an enlightening experience for us, and should not be missed.

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