Here's the group. (Megan's family was not in attendance.)
We also did some old photo recreations, but since I don't have the originals we were recreating, it doesn't make much sense to post the new ones. If someone in the family gets those to me, I'll put them up.
On August 2 we took Heather and Addie to the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary for a day camp. They got to feed some koi, took a puppy for a walk, fed it treats, and toured their medical facility. I sat on the patio and took pictures of hummingbirds.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
After lunch we drove out to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. We parked, got everyone sunscreened, walked out to the dunes, and a storm rolled through. So we huddled under the observation platform and watched the storm.
On August 1 we had a reservation to visit Antelope Canyon outside of Page, Arizona.
Glen Canyon Dam
So I, Jess, and the girls headed off early to visit Glen Canyon Dam on our way.
In this picture, Corinne refuses to look at the camera and Jess has just poked Heather in the eye with her sunglasses, but doesn't realize it yet:
After our dam tour we headed in to Page for lunch and ice-cream at Slackers. Then it was out to the staging area for our Antelope Canyon tour. We got there, the rest of the family arrived, and then it started pouring, thundering, and lightning-ing. Then, after we all got flash-flood warning alerts on our phones, they canceled the tour. So no Antelope Canyon for us. Which was frustrating as I had booked it something like 6 months ago and was looking forward to it.
After being rained out at Antelope Canyon we needed to come up with something else to do. We decided to take a look at what's left of Old Paria--a ghost town that my family visited when I was growing up that has since been burned down by vandals. On the drive back up in to Utah we stopped at Big Water Visitor Center to let the girls out for a bit. It was closed, but had some outdoors exhibits we could still look at about dinosaurs and the geological history of the area.
We got to the trailhead for Old Paria just as the rest of the group was heading in, so we joined up with the back of the caravan.
The dirt road was in decent shape most of the way out to a picnic area. We did have to cross one wash, but it was manageable even with 2-wheel-drive minivans, but then the road crosses the river bed which was not going to happen in our vehicles. So we parked there and walked.
(The guy in the green shirt isn't with our group.)
Here's us sort of recreating an old picture from when my family visited the same Paria Cemetery when I was growing up. If someone gets me that picture I'll put it up too, but I don't have it.
It started raining with some thunder while we were at the cemetery. So we turned around to head back to the vehicles.
Our family vacation this year was a road trip across across Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, and Idaho (and necessarily crossing Nevada to return home).
On July 29 we met up with most of the rest of my family outside of Zion National Park for a family reunion which was originally planned as a retirement celebration for Dad.
We all stayed in a vacation rental out past the east entrance of the park. Lots of room for cousins to run around.
On July 31st we went in to Zion National Park, briefly. We drove in, parked, got on the shuttle, and rode it up to the Narrows station. We let the girls play in the water at the mouth of the Narrows for a little while.
Then we hopped back on the shuttle with the intent of doing one of the short, child-friendly hikes. Instead, Corinne completely overheated and we stopped at the lodge in order to find some air conditioning and get her cooled down again. After which we decided we better just get heading back to the house. So that was our trip to ZNP. Better luck next time.
For Thanksgiving this year we drove down to Texas to visit with Jess' family. Christopher & Jenny and their kids were going to be down from Colorado and Cameron was home from school. Chance & Rachel and their kids live in the general area as well as Colton; so it was a pseudo-family-reunion kind of thing.
We had originally intended to leave Livermore the morning of November 19, but Heather's preschool had their Thanksgiving Feast that day around noon. So we stayed for that and left immediately after.
Heather made the front-page of our local paper when the kids were singing the songs they've been learning:
Once the feast was over we loaded up in the van and drove to Needles, CA for the night. On Friday we loaded up and drove into Oatman, AZ to see the burros. Heather was a little apprehensive, but it was still a good way to get out of the car and stretch for a bit.
From Oatman it was on to Flagstaff, AZ. We grabbed dinner (at Chick-Fil-A) and then headed up to the Lowell Observatory. They have public viewing and talks each evening. We got to see the moon up close through their largest telescope and we saw Uranus as well (even with a building-mounted telescope it still only looks like a fuzzy blue dot).
We also listened to a talk about Pluto. The Lowell Observatory is where Pluto was discovered. In July of this year the New Horizons Probe completed it's 9.5 year journey to flyby Pluto and take the best pictures of it the world has ever seen. Heather was actually somewhat interested in the talk, but she really wanted to interrupt every few minutes to ask unrelated questions or make statements. They were always still space related though. I had to threaten to leave if she didn't wait to ask her questions at the end. She reluctantly agreed to do so. Then she asked the presenter what hit Uranus to tip it sideways.
Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki
The next day we drove North to see Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki National Monuments. Sunset Crater is one out of a string of dormant cinder cone volcanoes in Northern Arizona. North of the volcano a ways is an old pueblo from the 1100's.
By the time we finished at the National Monuments and headed back out the East side of Flagstaff the sun was already setting. We drove to Albuquerque, NM and stayed the night there and then drove straight on to Frisco, TX. I had more stops planned, but by Albuquerque we were already almost a full day behind schedule, so we skipped the remaining stops.
Thanksgiving in Frisco
We spent November 22 through November 29 in Frisco. We went to the Zoo with Christopher & Jenny and kids on Wednesday, but mostly just hung out.
We did get Johnson Family pictures taken while we were there and one of just our little family as well:
When our week in Frisco was up we began our long trip back home. Weather looked clear so we opted for the Northern route up through Colorado and across Utah and Nevada. We stayed the first night in Amarillo, TX and then angled up across the corner of New Mexico. We passed by Capulin Volcano National Monument on the way. We had to drive down a snow-covered road to get to it, but the park entrance had been plowed by the personnel running the monument.
Unfortunately, they hadn't plowed the road that runs up to and around the rim of the (dormant) volcano so we couldn't go up and have a look around.
Our destination that evening was Christopher & Jenny's house in Colorado Springs, CO. We stayed a couple of nights there and gave Heather the chance to play in snow.
Arches National Park
We drove out the West side of Colorado and spent the night in Moab, UT. The next morning we drove through the first third or so of Arches National Park before continuing on our way to Lehi, UT.
From Arches we drove up to Lehi, UT to spend a night at the house of some friends from college. Then it was on to Winnemucca, NV and home the day after that.
It was a lot of driving which was made bearable by having the Raspberry Pi running Kodi and hooked in to the van's entertainment system. We had movies and TV shows to watch to keep Heather occupied as we drove across hundreds of miles of nothingness. I caught up on all my podcasts which could be played through the front speakers using Bluetooth while Heather watched stuff in the back with headphones. I'm not sure how my family growing up survived driving across the country from Connecticut to Utah and back without such conveniences.