Home leave to the Western United States

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North America » United States
July 20th 1990
Published: November 3rd 2011
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Two and a half weeks after I returned from Canada, the family left for the States on home leave. This was the first time that all the relatives would see Will who was now almost a year old. But first we would visit the Pacific Northwest to include British Columbia, fly to California, and drive from California to Colorado. I believe in breaking in our kids at an early age for road trips. Tamara was almost five and Rosanna was almost three, and they all did great.

20 July 1990 Friday. We flew from Brussels to Chicago where we spent the night at an airport hotel, having learned previously that it is better to avoid connections late in the afternoon when there is a possibility that thunderstorms could disrupt the follow on flights.

21 July 1990 Saturday. We woke early due to jet lag and caught the first flight to Seattle, arriving about 9 am. We rented a car for a week, and then headed north to Everett. We stopped there to visit with Darrell and Don, two classmates from Dalat School. We spent until mid afternoon with them and their families, catching up, as we hadn't seen each other since 1968.

Our plan was to drive north towards Canada, and stop at some exit and stay at a motel. We hadn't counted on the Goodwill Games being in Seattle and every hotel and motel room being taken from Seattle to Vancouver. We gave up looking for rooms until we arrived in Vancouver about 8 pm. We stopped at many motels, but all were booked. By 11 pm the kids were crying, thinking we would have to sleep in our car all night. We finally found a room at the Sheraton, and paid a very high price, but it was worth it having a very nice room for the night. I learned then that my casual traveling days without a firm schedule were over. From that day forward I always reserved accommodations for every night of our trips in advance of our departure.

22 July 1990 Sunday. We called ahead to make a reservation at a motel where we would be staying that night in Nanaimo. Then we checked out and had breakfast at McDonalds before touring Vancouver. Our first stop was Locarno Beach Park on the south shore of English Bay. We walked along the shore admiring the view of the Vancouver skyline across the bay.

Then we drove to the end of the peninsula where the University of British Columbia is located and visited the Anthropology Museum with its artifacts of the Northwestern Indian tribes, including totem poles and carved animals. After seeing this beautiful city we headed up the coast to Whytecliff where we caught the three hour or so ferry ride to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. It was a beautiful crossing; blue skies and calm seas. We checked into our motel which we had reserved earlier that day, and then toured the town and found a family restaurant for dinner.

23 July 1990 Monday. After breakfast we drove south on the Trans Canadian Highway to Buchart Gardens just north of Victoria. The flowers were beautiful, but the star attraction seemed to be our children. Many Asian tourists were fascinated with their blond hair and took many pictures of the kids instead of the gardens.

After seeing the gardens we headed into Victoria and visited the Royal British Columbia Museum. The museum rivals the one in Hull, with tableaus dipicting the history and peoples of British Columbia.

We then lined up for the late afternoon ferry crossing to Port Angeles, Washington on the Olympic Peninsula. The crossing was good with nice weather and calm seas. We had supper and then drove west to Lake Crescent in the Olympic National Park where we had booked a cabin for two nights. We checked in and then walked along the lake front until it was time for bed.

24 July 1990 Tuesday. We sent the day in the Olympic National Park driving up to Hurricane Ridge and hiking at various trails in that part of the park, before returning to our cabin for the evening.

25 July 1990 Wednesday. We checked out of our cabin and headed west on US101 through Forks, a logging town. We couldn't help but notice the clear cut slopes denuded of towering Pacific Coastal spruce trees. We learned that this lumber wasn't even processes in U.S. mills but were sent directly overseas. I wondered how we could sell so cheaply, and we valued so little our our natural resources. If it took a Spotted Owl to stop this desicration then I was all for it. We drove south along the Pacific coast, until we arrived at Kalaloch Lodge located on a bluff looking out over the Pacific Ocean.

We checked in an went to our cabin that was right on the bluff so had magnificent views of the beach and ocean. We dumped our stuff and ran down to the beach. The tide was out so we looked for shells, starfish, driftwood, and other things you would expect to find on a beach. The weather had turned for the worst but that didn't deter us from taking a long walk. We had to leave the beach when the tide turned and came in very quickly. We returned to the lodge for dinner and then relaxed until bedtime.

26 July 1990 Thursday. We had a delicious breakfast at the lodge and then checked out and headed south a bit to the Hoh Rainforest. We hiked through the forest until we reached a river and had to turn back. We then headed south and then east to Mount Rainier National Park where we checked into the Paradise Lodge on the south slope of Mount Rainier. We had a late lunch and, then given that it was an absolutely beautiful day, we took a hike through the alpine meadows full of wildflowers up the mountain for a mile or so until it got too steep to go further. That evening we ate at the lodge, attended a ranger program, and then had a good nights sleep.

27 July 1990 Friday. We checked out of the lodge and had donuts for breakfast on our way out of the park. We then headed to Seattle. We drove first to the Space Needle, the centerpiece of the 1962 Worlds Fair. We went to the top for the magnificent view of Seattle, Puget Sound, and Mount Rainier where we had just come from. We descended and drove to the center of twon where we parked and walk around. We stopped to visit the exhibit at the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park. By late afternoon we drove to our hotel near the SeaTac International Airport and checked in.

28 July 1990 Saturday. We returned our rental car and then caught our flight east to Saint Louis, as TWA did not have a direct flight south the California, where we then flew back west to Ontario CA. This took most of the day so when we got there we rented a car for two weeks with a drop off in Denver CO. We checked into another nearby airport hotel for the evening.

29 July 1990 Sunday. We got up early for the short drive to Knotts Berry Farm, an amusment park that predates Disneyland. This is where I remebered riding a train when I was 3 years old, and robbers climbed on board to take all our possessions. I wanted my kids to have the same memories. They were not as frightened as I had been. I don't think they had any nughtmares as a result. We spent the day there and then drove to Anaheim and checked into a motel across the street from Disneyland. That evening we watched from our room's balcony the fireworks above Cinderella's Castle before going to bed.

30 July 1990 Monday. We spent the day at Disneyland, mostly riding the rides in Fantasyland, as that is where most of the kiddy rides are...all three of the kids were under 48" tall so that limited what they could ride. While we couldn't ride Space Mountain, we could ride the Pirates of the Caribbean, which was our favorite. After that ride we ate lunch at the Blue Lagoon restaurant that is inside the Pirates ride, at the very beginning. This was also our favorite restaurant. The kids managed to knock over and break their tall glasses...why they served small children drinks in glasses was beyond my comprehesion, but the waiter cleaned up the spills.

By 5 pm we had pretty much done all we wanted so decided to head towards Las Vegas, putting as much of the Mojave Desert behind us after the heat of the day. We got to our motel in Barstow about 8 pm and the kids used the pool for an hour before turning in for the night.

31 July 1990 Tuesday. We got an early start to cross the rest of the Mojave Desert, but stopped at Calico Ghost Town for an hour or so and as a consequnce the rest of the desert crossing was in the heat of the day. Thank goodness for air conditioned cars! We arrived in Las Vegas shortly before noon so stopped briefly to visit the Circus Circus Casino. Mostly we wanted to see the trapeeze artists flying above the slot machines, but we also had a cheap buffet lunch at the casino.

After lunch we headed northeast to Zion National Park where we checked into the lodge about 3 pm. After dropping off our bags at our room we walked to our car. On the way met some deer. I encouraged Rosanna to pluck some grass and feed it to the deer, which she did. When she turned around to walk away, the deer butted her gently, which surprised her to tears. She said "The deer tried to bite me!" After that traumatic incident, we drove to the end of the valley where we hiked along the Virgin River through the stunning gorge of red rock. We got back to the lodge in time for supper.

1 August 1990 Wednesday. After another early start we headed to Bryce Canyon National Park, arriving about 10 am. We checked into the lodge there, and then walked along the rim from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point. We then had lunch at the lodge after which we got in our car to drive to Inspiration Point and Bryce Point. The views of the red rock hoodoos from these points are just breathtaking. We then drove to Rainbow Point and Yovimpa Point at the southern end of the park where we could see forever in the direction of the Grand Canyon. We hiked the Bristlecone Loop Trail before returning to the lodge for dinner. We watched the sun set and the stars come out and start their movement across the sky, and then it was time for bed.

2 August 1990 Thursday. I had reserved a trail ride for first thing after breakfast so while Linda watched the kids, I joined several others in an hour long trail ride down into the hoodoo forest. Upon my return we loaded into the car and retraced some of our steps back towards Zion, but at Mt Carmel Junction continued to Kanab and on to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We entered the lodge to check in and saw the view through the lobby, which drew us mesmerized as we took in the scene before us. What a big ditch! We checked in and went to our cabin, and then returned to the lodge for lunch. Our table was right at the rim so the view as we ate was astounding. After lunch we hiked to Bright Angel Point and then sat looking at the view as the clouds changed the lighting on the multicolored layers of rock descending 5000 feet below us to the small green ribbon of the Colorado River. A thuderstorm was approaching from the north and a rainbow spread across the sky. We had dinner at the lodge followed by a ranger program and then another brief view of the canyon at night before turning in.

3 August 1990 Friday. We left the Grand Canyon and drove past the Vermillion Cliffs to Page AZ where we had lunch. We then across the Navajo Indian Reservation to Monument Valley to see the red rock buttes known as the Mittens. This is where John Ford made so many Western movies with John Wayne. We drove down into the valley and around all the "monuments." After we stopped at Gouldings Trading Post, the setting for the fort in "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," to check in for the night.

4 August 1990 Saturday. We drove to the Four Corners where we put one hand each in Utah and Colorado and one foot each in Arizona and New Mexico, and then bought some fry bread from one of the many Navajo vendors encircling the four corners. Then we were off past Shiprock to Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado. We checked into Far View Lodge and had lunch. After we joined a ranger tour of several of the cliff dwellings where the Anastazi Indians lived after AD 1000 until they disappeared due to a prolonged drought. After dinner that evening at the lodge we attended a ranger program before going to bed.

5 August 1990 Sunday. We drove to Durango where we walked around a bit, and then to Dulce, in northern New Mexico, to the Jicarilla Apache Reservation where we stopped at the Trading Post. We bought a Pendelton blanket really cheap compared to other places. This would be a gift for our neighbors for taking care of our cats while we were away.

Our next stop was Taos. We checked into a motel and then walked to the plaza at the center of town. We window shopped and had dinner before returning to our motel where at 9 pm then had an Indian dancing show. The kids really enjoyed this.

6 August 1990 Monday. We drove south to Santa Fe where we met my sister Carol, her husband Steve, and Steve's mom, dad, and brothers. They had just returned to the States from the Philippines. We walked around the central plaza and looked over the Navajo jewelry on sale at the Palace of the Governors. We then checked into our motel. We discovered that the room was in deplorable condition, and wanted to check out and move to another motel. However, Steve's family wanted to stay there. I guess they were used to primitive conditions. We had a miserable night. We decided that we would move not matter what Steve's family wanted to do.

7 August 1990 Tuesday. We checked out and demanded that our credit card not be charged. Steve's family decided to stay the second night, which Carol was not happy about. We moved to another motel just a bit down the street that we very pleasant. We met everyone for breakfast and then drove to Bandelier National Monument, an ancestral Pueblo archeological site. We took the ranger led tour of the ruins of ancient pueblos, one in a circular shape. Another was a long ruin at the base of a cliff.

After Bandelier we drove to Los Alamos National Laboratory to visit the museum of the Manhattan Project. We saw models of the first two atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki thus ending WWII.

Then we drove a bit north to a huge caldera that had erupted eons ago. We returned to our respective hotels, where we said our goodbyes to Carol and Steve as we would be leaving early in the morning. They would be returning to Las Cruces.

8 August 1990 Wednesday. We drove I-25 around the southern end of the Rocky Mountains and stopped at Fort Union, the ruins of an 1863 fort built to protect travelers along the Santa Fe Trail. We took a tour of this national monument, envisioning what life must have been like on this remote outpost.

We then continued to Colorado Springs where we checked into our motel just off Garden of the Gods Road. We visited the Garden of the Gods just as the sun was going down on the red rocks setting them ablaze.

9 August 1990 Thursday. We toured the Colorado Springs area. First we stopped at the headquarters of the mission my parents had served as missionaries. My dorm mother from Dalat was working there so gave us an impromptu tour of the building where we met others we knew from our past. Then we visited the Air Force Academy before driving north to Denver where we checked into our motel near the airport.

10 August 1990 Friday. We returned our rental car only to discover that they were going to charge me a drop off fee. None was mentioned when I booked the car, so I argued. We reached a settlement, basically splitting the difference. We then caught our flight to Columbus OH where I rented another car for several weeks making sure that there would be no drop off charge when I returned it at JFK. We then drove to Zanesville OH, where we would be visiting my sister Judy and her husband David and Ryan, Kristin and Graham for several days.

11 August 1990 Saturday. Saturday we drove to a canal town, Roscoe Village where we had a picnic lunch before boarding a canal barge for a three mile round trip cruise along the canal. The canal was part of an extensive system which served as the primary mode of freight transportation in the early 1800's.

12 August 1990 Sunday. We attended the church where David served as pastor, and then had dinner before saying goodbye for now. We would see the family twelve days later when we got to Toronto, Canada. After church we drove to New Castle PA.

13 -23 August 1990 Monday through the following Thursday. We spent time with Linda's mom, brothers Marlan and Jon, and sister Melody, and neice Ashley, and various relatives for the next eleven days.

24 August 1990 Friday. We said our farewells and drove to Toronto by way of Niagara Falls.

25 - 31 August 1990 Saturday through the following Friday. We spent this time visiting with my Mom, my Aunts Marg, Beulah, and Jean, and with Judy, David and family. One day we spent at Center Island in Lake Ontario across from downtown Toronto. There is a small amusement park there for children. We ate a picnic and then the kids rode trains and small antigue cars, and waded in the kiddy pool. We also visited the Canadian National Exposition, which I remebered fondly from my childhood. Will walked his first steps here.

1 September 1990 Saturday. We drove from Toronto to Nyack NY to see where my Mom was now living while she worked as Conference Coordinator for Nyack College.

2 September 1990 Sunday. We said goodbye to Mom, drove to JFK, returned the rental car without any problems, and cought our flight home to Brussels, arriving the next morning.

Mom and the aunties would be joining us for Christmas in Overijse, after which I would take them to Rothenburg and Neuschwantein. The trip was cut short when we got to Oberammergau and found out the Linda had called to say that Tamara had a high fever and had to go to the hospital. We left Oberammergau after dinner at the NATO School Club and arrived home at 4 am. Tamara turned out to be ok.

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