6th Graders in Boxborough
We are in the back of the photo.
After sailing into New York, we spent time visiting family on both coasts; John’s folks live in the suburbs of Boston and mine live in the suburbs of Seattle.
The highlight in Boston was visiting our nephew’s 6th grade class. They had been following our blog all year and so we visited in person to answer their questions. They had very good questions ranging from the violence in Egypt to the yuckiest food we ate on the trip. (Just in case you are wondering, the yuckiest food was blood jello.) The highlight in Seattle was showing our slides to my extended family; again the kids asked very good questions.
Since we had left a car in Seattle, we had to drive from Seattle to Colorado Springs; a distance of 1400 miles on the most direct route but we explored a few places and it was over 2200 miles.
In keeping with the theme of our trip, our first stop was in the Willamette Valley southwest of Portland, Oregon to visit the wineries. We spent two days there visiting a total of eight wineries and tasting some very memorable wines.
We stayed two nights in McMinnville,
It was beautiful but even in June it still had a lot of snow.
a classically beautiful American small town with small, independent businesses and shade trees lining Main Street. We even had dinner at a “mom & pop” pizza parlor.
From the Willamette Valley it was a half day drive to Crater Lake National Park
. It was there we encountered my favorite place name of the entire trip as we drove through the Umpqua National Forest. We arrived at Crater Lake about 3pm and spent several hours exploring the park. Native American oral tradition tells of the creation of Crater Lake when Mt Mazama erupted with tremendous force 7700 years ago. Geologists tell us the eruption ejected so much mass the mountain collapsed in on itself forming the caldera. It then took 800 years for rain and snow to fill the crater to its current depth of 1900 feet creating Crater Lake, the second deepest lake in North America and the ninth deepest in the world. Because of the altitude and the proximity to the Pacific Ocean, Crater Lake NP averages over 44 feet of snow every year. It takes the park road crews 3 - 4 months to clear the Rim Road around the lake, a task they usually finish in late
"The Biggest Little City in the World"
July. It was a beautiful day so we had lovely views of the lake. Between the depth, the clarity and the clear blue sky, the lake was a sparkling azure jewel nestled in a pristine setting of snow-covered cliffs.
As we traveled around the world, we asked people where in the US they would like to visit. Almost always, Las Vegas was on the list. Since John had never been to Las Vegas, we decided to pay a visit. It was, however, a bit out of the way and we were anxious to get home so instead we stopped in Reno, a mini-Las Vegas. After wandering the strip like a couple of yokels just off the farm, we went to Harrah’s casino where we found a Blackjack game we liked. We used the $100 bill I had carried all around the world in my emergency stash to get 20 $5 chips. When I handed it to the dealer I told her we were going to share and she said “Okay but I get to split it up” and she gave me $75 and John $25. We played about an hour and had a couple of drinks each then
we cashed out and still had $85—not bad.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon in southern Utah was our last stop before heading home. It is primarily a huge cliff face with many colorful and often eerie rock formations. We had lunch at the far end then slowly drove back towards the entrance stopping at the many overlooks to admire the views. We walked down into the canyon along Navaho Trail and came up on Queen’s Garden Trail. It took over two hours and was a great way to see the depths of the canyon. The first part of Navaho trail is a very steep set of switchbacks down a section called Wall Street because of the towering cliffs on either side of the narrow trail. The trail was built during the Great Depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps and was typical of their aggressive style of trail building.
During our last day on the road we drove across the eastern half of Utah and the western half of Colorado. Utah is a beautifully desolate state and we stopped twice to look at the scenery but both times the biting no-see-ums were so bad that we quickly
retreated to the car.
As we entered Colorado, we started counting down the familiar (to us) landmarks (Grand Junction…check, Breckenridge…check, Woodland Park…check) until we were back in Colorado Springs. As the sun was setting we pulled into the driveway, just three days short of one year after we left. We were home.
But now what do we do? As planned we are slowly returning to reality. I was able to get my old job back and so start work on July 11. John will be going back to school or getting a job but has not yet decided which. Our home was in fine condition and we are truly enjoying sleeping in our own bed again.
We are rejoining reality but the precious memories from our adventures abroad will keep us smiling for many years to come.
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