Archive for the ‘Road Trip’ Category

Mel ❤ plants. Plants ❤ Mel.

Oh the greenness!  What a joy in the middle of winter.  The snow is beautiful and all but lately I have been feeling like it is time to escape to someplace tropical and warm.  Feel the sunshine, put on a tan!  These photos remind me just how great the green of plants can be.

From the very cool greenhouse at the Denver Botanic Gardens that we ventured to on another outing with Tauna and Bryan.  The photo with me in it shows some of my favorite plants….air plants, that simply grow in the air without soil.  They are super fun and easy to care for.  These particular ones were huge! 

Stay posted for more picture from the Gardens….


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A Crafty Mane

Tauna crafting Mel's mane.

Tauna is the most awesome hairstylists ever so it is always a treat when I get to visit her and get her to style my do’.  She is my quarter japanese friend with an amazing funky style all her own.  My hair had gotten quite long but I gave her the creative license to do whatever moved her.  I came away with a fun little do’ with a little bit of an asymmetrical twist.  Super cute!  My only regret is I don’t have her hair counsel all the time.

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Seward [Mom’s Visit]

Mel & Wayne on the dock (top), Puffin Splash (bottom left), Mom & Mel (bottom right)

One day of my Mom’s visit was spent on a day trip to Seward,  a small harbor town located on the Kenai Peninsula.  Though the drive was quite long the scenery was amazing and the sun even came out to illuminate the mountains rising out of the ocean. 

Highlights of the trip included:

A stop at I.R.B.I. Knife Shop, a third generation family run business that Wayne and his family frequented throughout his childhood.

A visit to the Alaska Sealife Center where we learned a lot about the protection and conservation of the seas resources, glaciers, and underwater sealife.  We also met a few seals, a giant sea lion, some baby seabirds and got splashed by an ornrey puffin (above) whom I’m pretty sure was kicking up water on purpose!

Ocean sights and smells on the boardwalk, taking in all the little boats with funny names.

A yummy seafood lunch at Ray’s Waterfront consisting of battered halibut, baked halibut cheeks, cheesy crab melt and warm cups of creamy seafood chowder.

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Rocks Rock

Rocks Rock


Back to the road trip (again), where I believe I left off in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  From here we headed south towards Denver, veering off the path for some explorations in Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park before heading into the big city for a stay with my childhood friend, Tauna. 

All you rock hounds out there (ah hem, Dad, Sara) will enjoy these pictures taken at Red Rose Rock Shop where we stopped in Estes, Colorado.  There were piles upon piles of rocks outside as well as a wide assortment inside too that included everything from fossils to precious stones. It was a fun stop!

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Wayne @ the Rock (top left), Mel @ the Rock (right), Wayne @ the top (bottom left), Mr. Cottontail (bottom middle)

Getting back to the roadtrip, from Devil’s Tower we continued east where we crashed for the night in Sheridan, Wyoming, my old stomping ground.  Nearly seven years has passed since I visited last and it is always fun to go back and see how things have changed. Wayne got a tour of where I once lived, went to school, and all my old hang out spots.  We also got the chance catch up with a few friends from my childhood and catch up on all the new things happening in their lives which was super great.  After a long day of sightseeing we took in a movie at the theatre on main street and had a comfortable night sleep at the Holiday Lodge Motel, the exact place where my family first stayed when we moved to Sheridan in 1987, when I was just four years old. 

After our jaunt in Sheridan, it was time to head south (again!) so onward we went towards Cheyenne.  We decided to take the backroads in order to make a stop at Independence Rock on the way.  Although I had been here before, I was excited to go again since the subject of history is so near and dear to my heart.  (You probably didn’t know that.)  I just think it is so cool to see, touch and feel the same rock that was a major landmark for early pioneers heading west on the Oregon trail in the mid-1800’s, many of which left behind their mark by etching their name in the surface.  We got out, stretched our legs, and walked around the huge granite rock which protrudes 130 feet into the air.  I took in the windy Wyoming plains of barbed wire and blowing grassland.  Wayne wasn’t as thrilled.

We got back in the car and made a beeline for Cheyenne where we crashed with my cousin Ryan and his family for the night.  They had wonderfully cozy home and fed us well.

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Mato Tipila

Little Deer (bottom left), Mel & Wayne at the Tower (right)

Little Deer (bottom left), Mel & Wayne at the Tower (right)

Meaning “Bear’s Lodge” in the Kiowa language, this landmark has come to be known as Devil’s Tower in western cultures.  

Located on the eastern side of Wyoming, just past the border of South Dakota, we arrived here on a blustery spring day.  I experienced a bit of nostalgia at visiting Devil’s Tower as it was a place frequented throughout my childhood, one of the major signposts on the drive from my home in Wyoming to my grandparents in South Dakota.  Besides the aweinspiring geological feature we had several wildlife spottings including  a number of deer and turkey grazing by the roadside and a huge prairie dog town full of fat little critters.  There are a lot of fun facts about this place such as: it rises 1,267 feet high, geologically speaking it is a “volcanic plug”, is scaled by hundreds of climbers each summer, and represents a sacred site for numerous native american tribes.  

One of my favorite Native American stories about Devils Tower follows: 

One day some Kiowas were camped by a stream where there were lots of bears.  Seven little girls were playing some distance from their village and were chased by some bears.  The girls ran toward the village and just as the bears were about to catch them, they jumped on a low rock about three feet tall.  One of the girls prayed to the rock, “Rock, take pity on us- Rock save us.”  The rock heard her and began to push itself up out of the ground , raising the children higher and higher out of reach of the bears.  When the bears jumped at them they scratched the rock, broke their claws and fell back to earth.  The rock continued to push the children upward into the sky while the bears jumped at them.  The children are still in the sky, seven little stars in a group (the Pleiades or seven sisters constellation).

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Wayne and Miss Cherry

Now, our trip just wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the infamous Wall Drug, another point on the South Dakota tourist trap circuit.  You can all see that Wayne had a good time.  We stopped here for a bite to eat (indian tacos and homemade donuts! yum!) and to peruse the many tourist shops, seeing if anything striked our fancy.  There wasn’t much to be had unless one is a collector of jackalope memorabilia or western wear but we did pick up a signed watercolor painting by local artist, Jon Crane, entitled Heartland Spring.  After a few hours at Wall Drug we continued westward to the Sturgis/Rapid City area where we stayed for a few days to enjoy the company of family.  

Some highlights include:

Having lunch with Grandma Arlene at her new complex and seeing her new apartment.

Food, conversation and a few good games of “Apples to Apples” and “What’s Yours Like” with the Mortensen Family.

Relaxing reading afternoons at my Grandma Tae’s and lots of yummy food.

Seeing all the new baby cousins.

Not burning down Grandma Tae’s house when I accidently started a baguette on fire in the toaster oven.

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