I am writing this on a quasi-cool September Los Angeles day. Schools are back in session. Kids are playing outside with their neighborhood friends. All while the work of the devil, aka Covid 19, continues to snatch our children.
If you think that kids aren’t getting Covid 19, becoming very ill from the disease, or dying – stop reading unless you wish to be educated with some hard facts.
And, if you are unvaccinated because you think “it won’t happen to me”, ” vaccines are a political ploy”, “I refuse to support Big Pharma”, ” The shot will change my DNA”, or any other stupid and non-educated reason – you may want to stop reading because I am tired of your rants and you will probably disagree with mine.
But, if you are one of the people who believe in science, know that we have to protect our children at all costs – even if that means being a little inconvenienced or fall slightly ill for a day or two due to a vaccine – then by all means – read on!
You see, I wouldn’t care if adults received a vaccine – or not – if it wasn’t for the millions of unprotected children around the globe. Who the heck is looking out for THEM? Science is. I am. Are YOU?
Your non – vaccinated self may decide not to hang around with kids – but are you having a beer with their parents? Going to the local football game with their teacher? Attending a concert with their bus driver? Or just hanging out in your cushy office for your co-worker to bring it home to the sweet newborn baby that he is bragging about being “just so perfect”? Your germs may seep their way into another grown-up human and make their way to mini- humans.
And while the vaccines aren’t 100% protection – No vaccine can guarantee that – the Covid 19 vaccines will stop kids and adults from DYING.
So until EVERY child is vaccinated or this insidious disease is eradicated – do the RIGHT thing. Get vaccinated. Funerals of children are the worst of the worst. Scratch that – all funerals are awful!
By the way here are some lesser known facts to combat the fiction about vaccines.
1) mRNA (the stuff that is in the vaccine by Pfizer and Moderna) also is being tried for anti-cancer / cancer treatments. Hmm.. how many non- vaxx Covid19 folks would run to get an “anti cancer” vaccine?
4) While we are on the subject of “sex” … can the vaccine ruin virility or fertility? Well guess what ?- Having Covid 19 could ruin your sex life- but the vaccine – nope. Read more here: https:///covid-19-could-cause-male-infertility-and-sexual-dysfunction-but-vaccines-do-not-164139
Yippee! You read to the end of my educational post about vaccines laced with a hefty dose of ranting.
Sorry for any grammatical or spelling errors – must have been the vaccine that took away the part of my brain for literacy. (Hmmmm)
Need some more reasons to get vaccinated? Go walk around your block, visit a park, or look into the eyes of your child/ grandchild.
Thank you. Respectful comments welcome. Disrespectful comments will be deleted.
Kauai is one of my “happy places”! Unique topography juxtaposed with a “tropical attitude” makes this Hawaiian island a true treasure. I have traveled to Hawaii several times and prefer Kauai to the other islands because of the “old world” feel it exudes. However, traveling during the Covid pandemic made this trip much more challenging than any of the previous. Because many are finding Hawaii, including Kauai, a preferred destination for their own vacations, I have decided to share a few travel tips here. Need some enticement to visit Kauai? I added photos, just in case!
TIP 1: If you are traveling from the United States be sure to consult this page at least one week prior to leaving on your trip: TRAVEL HAWAII . Also, check with your airline carrier.
International travelers should consult this website: https://travel.hawaii.gov/ – for pertinent information well before they plan on arriving in Hawaii.
TIP 2 – Make Reservations Well in Advance of Traveling
From cars to restaurants – be sure to make reservations well in advance to ensure that you have transportation (if needed) and also a place to dine. Popular restaurants, such as the Beach House in Poipu, are booking far in advance! Rental cars are a premium on the island and many are resorting to TURO to get around the island. For your personal safety please be sure to rent from only reputable companies. Note: a car is needed to visit many of the island’s favorite spots- such as Waimea Canyons.
TIP 3- Stay at a place that adheres to Covid 19 safety/ cleaning regulations.
TripAdvisor is very good at giving salient information regarding the reputation of hotels and vacation rentals in regards to their following Covid 19 sanitization protocols. Keep in mind, however, that this information is provided from the hotel or rental company and not vetted by TripAdvisor. A sample of what you can look for in the hotel description is below.
TIP 4 – Look for activities outdoors – without crowds!
While we traveled on a semi-crowded plane to get arrive in Hawaii – we didn’t feel the need to continue to be with “others” during our stay. Therefore, we opted for outdoor activities that were sans crowds or in some cases, even anyone else! When going to the pool we picked times that were not popular and if a group of people decided to join us in the hot tub we smiled and exited.
Most of our dining was outdoors at tables spaced fairly far away from other patrons. We stuck together on tours and didn’t do anything that entailed being with another group (such as any boat tours). While big group activities can be fun and a great way to meet people from all over the globe – we decided that now was not the time to be making friends! And, masks were mandated everywhere we went!
Below I listed some activities that you may want to consider if visiting Kauai:
Go when not busy to the Kauai Coffee Estate. Lovely to walk the farm area and free samples! Plus a super yummy gift shop!
Visit and if inclined, hike, Waimea Canyon State Park. Also, there is a delightful gift shop and restaurant within the park. Check it out for great coffees and perhaps you will have the pleasure of meeting David Parsons III as he sings a few groovy tunes!
Have you ever seen something and thought to yourself, “I could do that!” A long time ago I had ideas on creating crib toys with black and white graphics – but no sooner did I have my prototype completed a toy company beat me to it! I also thought of play centers for kids that were both educational and fun – lost out on that too – remember Discovery Zone and Gymboree?! Now, I decided I am going to join an already established community of people who refinish used furniture and morph it to look vintage or retro. I have spent quite a bit of the past months scouring over Pinterest and online magazines. I have visited resale/consignment shops and creative art centers. I am gleaning from various resources a plethora of fun ideas.
Enough reading – time to sand, prime, and paint!
TIP 1: Collect common sense and useful resources on how to refinish furniture. ✅
Tip: Not all furniture uses the same materials or steps in the process of refinishing. Taking an old broken cabinet from a garage sale and painstakingly going through the process of repair, preparation, painting and, finishing – takes time. It is not a few hours of just slapping on paint.
I decided to go to the ReSTORE, owned by Habitat for Humanity. This is how one can buy get gently used furniture that isn’t too worn and also give back to the community. Here I bought my “practice piece” for $10 and one that I am most likely will just resand and use wood stain finish.
TIP 2: When you pick a piece of old furniture to “redo” make sure it has “interest” value.
For me, this means that the furniture has some cool features such as interesting etching in the wood, an unusual design or shape, and/or hardware that is really groovy!
I got this piece during my second visit to a second ReSTORE and bought it because 1) it was made by Ethan Allen 2) The handle knob was cool and visually interesting. Scroll a bit more to see how I transformed this sad little table to something a really “groovy”!
TIP 3: Add some pieces to your collection, but remember you only have so much space and time.
I spotted the piece below on the left at an Estate sales website. The lady asked for $75. I offered $10. We settled on $15. Now it sits in my living room. Milk paint on the top with a polyurethane finish. Resanded and refinished the wood on the sides and painted the interior of the drawer. It is pictured here drying in our very used and crowded garage. I could have picked up three or four more pieces in the set. I opted not to do so because I wanted to be selective. One was enough.
Until the next day.
That is when I picked up the lovely side table with drop leaves (right). Sure it needs some TLC – but I can’t wait to “sand this baby”! (Aww I am talking “DYI” speak!)
TIP 4: Let other’s know about your new creative venture and maybe you will make your hobby profitable.
I have been working out of our garage. So far, just by having people walk by – I have sold two pieces. One isn’t even started yet!
Below is the little Ethan Allen table that was kinda “sad”. Slide the arrow in the middle of the images below to see the “before” and “after”.
Here are the steps:
Sand the top wood with very light sandpaper. Preferably using a small electric sander.
Paint a primer coat (white) over the wood and let dry completely.
I used Benjamin Moore paint (eggshell) in the color WROUGHT IRON. I painted three coats on this piece. Thanks to the people at my local ACE hardware for being great resources and my “support” team for picking great colors!
I then used a furniture wax for painted furniture to give it a bit of sheen.
The old knob, which I liked, but didn’t think matched well with the new look, was replaced with this one from Home Goods. (Came in a set of four) I think this new knob gives it a more contemporary look.
Lastly, I lined the inside of the drawer with contact paper that does not stick (in case the new owner doesn’t like it and wants to replace it).
Voila! In a day or so this table will be ready for a new home (obviously not completed yet!
What’s in the trunk of your car? Today, a friend showed me her organized car that was stocked with items that would be useful to have during almost any emergency! While I had to admire her amazing packing skills – I also had to admit that I was not quite as “disaster prepared” as I should be. Shame on me! Especially since I have penned many articles on this subject! So, when I arrived home, I started to assemble my “to-go kit” for my car and update the emergency containers I have at home.
We cannot stop natural disasters, but we can arm ourselves with knowledge: so many lives wouldn’t have to be lost if there were enough disaster preparedness.
This year has been one for the record books! Devastating fires have erupted across the western states. Temperatures are well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in areas that have not experienced triple digits in a long time, if ever. The hurricane season seems to be wreaking havoc with floods and tornado activity as a result. And then there is the very real possibility of an earthquake. Some may even say we are “long overdue.”
So how does one get ready to either evacuate or shelter in place? I found a comprehensive safety preparedness list to share that also has additional resources. It was compiled by the National Fire Association and their website is really chocked full of great information. They also offer tips for helping individuals requiring special assistance. Read more here.
Making time now to prepare will probably save you aggravation later!
This is my list is of things to place in your car or in an easily accessible box. Remember these items need to be available in one place so that they easily can be carried to your car or outside your home in a moment’s notice. In a disaster, rarely are you give the luxury of time to get all your items assembled. Sometimes people need to leave with just the clothes on their back. And, remember to have an emergency plan in place and practice. Be sure your children know how to evacuate and where to go if you are separated.
Flashlight with a spare set of batteries
Medications for a week (or more)
Water and cups to place water in.
Change of clothes
Emergency supply kit (bandaids, eye wash, etc.)
Hygiene and personal products
Cell phone / computer/ tablet (have ready to go)
Phone charger / computer charger
Flash drive with important documents, family photos, and any other non-replaceable items. Take a video of your home and place the video on your flash drive. Then BACK UP YOUR VIDEO to an “online” cloud like Google Drive or iCloud. These small devices are CHEAP and also can be the difference between being prepared and having hours or days of aggravation and grief over the loss of favorite photos, etc.
For children, their special toys, deck of cards, or small games to keep busy.
Earbuds or earplugs.
Sanitary wipes, masks, and gloves.
Special foods if your family members have allergies. And just in case: Cereal bars or energy bars.
SHELTERING IN PLACE
If you are sheltering in place – be sure to have all the above listed items (just in case you need to evacuate) AND enough food and water for 14 days. Canned or dried goods are best. Items most recommended are cereals, cereal bars, canned beans, tuna, peanut butter, crackers, and for your little ones baby formula (if needed), and don’t forget your fur-family members – pet food.)
I, like so many, thought we turned the corner with Covid 19. Until yesterday. That is when I watched a ton of media newscasts about variants, boosters, fast increase in cases and sadly – deaths. Now – I feel confused. Are we not “OVER” the Covid 19 pandemic or is there MORE to come?
Am I the only one who is waiting for the “other shoe to drop”?
As I watched reporters discussing tropical storms, global events, and the sad news of the collapse of the Surfside apartments – they seemed to “squeeze in ” information discussing the Lambda Covid 19 variant that is predicted to overtake the already present and highly virulent Delta strain.
I didn’t need to know that there was a Lambda variant. Or any other. What I needed to hear was that the disease was no match for science and we were all going to kiss the enemy good-bye – once and for all. Instead, I now know that I will have to “just suck it up” and learn to live among the beast as “the Covid” is not going away.
But, what if my “uh-oh” feeling is truly founded versus. me acting a bit paranoid? Despite my being fully Moderna vaccinated, should I start restocking my shelves? Do I need to rush and travel to see family and friends before another lockdown? Should I eat out every single day until the doors close to restaurants?
Or, should I just go on living with the attitude that all will be OK – hope for the best – don’t worry, be happy!
I just can’t be practical, nor can I shake this funny feeling I have been experiencing since yesterday. It feels very similar to the one I had early March 2020 – that something is “lurking”among us. A premonition. A “funky” feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Back in 2020 when I first had the veil of dread envelope me – I rushed to the local Target and stuffed the cart full with paper products, canned goods, and lots of pharmaceuticals and vitamins. My thought was that we could live on tuna, cereal, and bottled water for at least a month with all I bought. (Why did I think we would have no water – it wasn’t a hurricane!!)
Over 16 months later, I find myself fighting the impulse to run out and retrace my path from the front of the Target store to the checkout!
So, tell me friends – what are you feeling these days? Am I being silly or sensible? And, if you are non-vaccinated – do you think you will “give an arm” anytime soon? (Please!)
This past Friday, my daughter and myself were guests on the syndicated podcast The Decided Heart Effect) with hosts Hilary Bilbrey and Sonja Montiel. So, in lieu of a written blog I would like to invite you to watch our interview.
We covered a multitude of topics from parenting to mental health issues. And, we discussed Natasha’s newest book – Shit Adults Never Taught Us. Would love to know your thoughts on what we discussed?!
To order the book referenced:Shit Adults Never Taught Us CLICK here>>> ORDER
Imagine how the world would be if teachers were paid on the levels of trending models, reality TV show performers, or athletes! How every time a teacher walked up and down the classroom sparks of adoration would happen with whispers of encouragement from the students.
Now, of course, this may seem absurd. Even as I am writing this blog I am rethinking if this could EVEN be possible. But, I have written about the non-glamorous, but the valiant career of teaching before and will continue to write on this subject after this article is completed. No surprise to readers of this blog that I am passionate about giving recognition and thanks to the scores of teachers who work tirelessly on behalf of our children.
Before 2020, there were legions of people who thought that teaching was one of the “easiest” jobs one could have. After all, isn’t the job of educators to only work a few hours daily, and then they just “rinse and repeat”? Plus, there were the ongoing assumptions that summer break was indeed that – time off without any need to prepare, take coursework for continued certifications, and etc. Newsflash – good teachers never stop wanting to improve their skills to help their students.
It took a pandemic to change many minds about the “art of teaching”. Newfound respect was formed about the real work involved with teaching our kids. So many “Ah-Hah moments” happened when parents were thrust into dual roles. It was tough. But, with every difficult lesson comes an increased level of understanding and insight. I hope that one of the lessons learned was that teachers are not paid commensurate with their true worth. They should be revered like our “supermodels” and “elite athletes”!
Yes, this is a huge shift in our collective psyche. And, probably wouldn’t even be a consideration if it weren’t for the Covid 19 pandemic. I simply ask that you please allow this blogger to dream of a world where this is possible.
For many who are reading this article, you have assumed the role of teacher this year as a pandemic brought virtual or hybrid education to your home front. I commend you for your efforts and I bet you were much more successful than you believed. And, for the teachers who made the best of a horrific situation – kudos as you the true “reality STARS”!
Thank you for reading. Respectful comments always welcome below.
I. Love. To. Travel. And, as you probably know from reading this blog – I enjoy sharing my travel experiences. I often say, “Travel is simply taking educational opportunities – on the road”.
However, travel can be much more difficult if you have barriers – such as those experienced by individuals with physical, mental, and/ or sensory challenges. I have noticed establishments that simply do not provide accessible or inclusive environment. While many places are demonstrating a better understanding of how to make their venues more welcoming – there is a lot of room for improvement.
I would like to showcase the organizations that get it RIGHT. So, I wrote a letter to all with links and lists for helping you plan a great vacation.
I am excited for you or your family to be venturing away from your home to discover various parts of the United States. There is so much to experience and learn from travel. I personally find the value of travel to be an extension of what happens within the classroom. It is my hope that my information below will help you to plan for a safe and fun trip. Please note that I am one of many who travel and blog – so be sure to check out other articles on this topic.
Why am I writing this letter to you? I am a frequent traveler, school psychologist, and a parent. I seem to be hyper vigilant for looking at situations through multiple lenses. Does this hotel have good accessibility for people with mobility issues? Can a person safely cross this street if blind? Does the venue offer interpreters for the Deaf or sensory accommodations for a person on the autism spectrum? And, so on.
It is because I have the utmost admiration for families who love to travel together that I want ALL to have a great experience, including equal access and inclusion.
PLAN!!! While a quick spontaneous trip can be fun, don’t underestimate the value of good preparation. Here are some tips that may be helpful –
There is very little consistency among hotel chains, restaurants, or theme park attractions when it comes to accessibility and being inclusive to all. So don’t forget to pack a hefty dose of patience along with your toothbrush!
Hint 1: Travel to family friendly places, especially if this is your first trip.If you are a solo traveler consider group travel to places that cater to large and diverse crowds.
Many people cite the Disney theme park properties as the most “special needs” friendly in the United States. And, I have witnessed that around the globe, too, Disney gets it right – most of the time. As does Disney Tokyo, Disney Paris, etc. They are a big corporation with much money and resources at their disposal. They also are dedicated to educating their staff about inclusion. So, I tip my proverbial hat off at Disney and their employees.
Here is the downside. Disney theme parks are super expensive for most families. Often people save years to enjoy a week with “the mouse”. Look for bargains when you decide to visit Disney properties. See if any organizations you belong to (or the grandparents) offer discounted tickets or places to stay.
Discount tickets for Disney parks have been available at these places (and hope they are still there!)
Once you have planned your trip, consider connecting with Disney representatives to learn about accommodations in the park. Here are two Disney guides for families who have family members with autism and or cognitive disabilities.
Also, there are additional parks and attractions that offer access and disability information. Their links can be found on the list below. Note that these places try to make the information easy to read – but sometimes these guides can be daunting. So, be sure to read ahead of time during your “planning” the trip phase.
Roadtrippers magazine also listed some of the most accessible parks in the United States. Here is their excellent article.
For your consideration: I am a big fan of using a reputable (in person) travel agency for planning vacations that are more than just an overnight and involve a lot of people and “moving parts”.
Next… packing for your trip. It is impossible to bring all the contents of your home with you – but in the case of a child or adult with special challenges you have to be extra careful to remember key items. Not only should you bring all the items for daily living needs (plus extras). But be sure to add to your suitcase medications for the time you will be gone – and additional in case of an unexpected extended stay. You list also should include some comfort items are those that can make a difference with your stay. Such as a night light, a small fan to block out noise from other rooms, and personal soaps or shampoos for those with sensitive skin or adverse reactions to smells. Noise cancelling headphones, an iPad or laptop, and favorite pillow or blanket(s) can make all the difference in the world. (Especially if someone uses a weighted blanket for comfort.) Also, bring snacks and drinks that are “must haves” for your family members.
Tip: Call ahead when making your hotel reservation. Depending on your family’s needs – ask for a room that makes your life easier. Need to be closer to the elevator – just ask. Need a handicap accessible room? Request it. Need a key with braille? Ask them for that, too. Ask if they have a room with special lights and adaptive equipment if you are traveling with someone who is Deaf. And, if you have a child or adult who is vocal – ask for a room that is more secluded from other guests so you don’t feel that you may be disturbing them.
Also, consider bringing a door alarm if you have concerns of elopement (fleeing). I travel with the STEP OFF alarm for personal security. Yet, it also is great to keep those who wander (including people with Alzheimer’s) safe.
If you are a solo traveler consider using a reputable travel agency that has knowledge about opportunities for travel that accommodates people with unique challenges. Deaf travel agencies are also available.
I did a little research on this subject and found these links to help (However, use your due diligence, as well.)
If you have been reading my first three blog posts about driving from California to New York and back again – then you are “up to speed”. As for those readers who are stumbling upon this article before reading the others – you may want to circle back and start with Part 1,Part 2, and Part 3 to help give you context.
The final stretch and then back home we go!
Hubby met me in Chicago where we made our way to New York and later New Jersey. I loved visiting family and friends who live thousands of miles from our home in California. Catching up after being in quarantine for a year was amazing. We laughed. We ate a ton of calories (I am a sucker for black and white cookies – a New York speciality!) We looked at old photos and even had three generations working online to fill in gaps for our family tree via Ancestry.com.
After a week of east coast driving it was time to hit the interstates and backroads from New York through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and finally Illinois to reconnect with driving partner and friend, Marj. We both had sons in Chicago and I jumped at the chance to see my second born and his “gal” twice on this trip and have more time in this beautiful city. Lucky for us it was DINE BROADWAY. An event where restaurants along Broadway Avenue in the Lakeview district set up on the streets and offer the best from their menus. Trust me – I have a new found love for cheese curds and grilled Caesar salad. If you haven’t tried either you are truly missing out. Thanks to one of my new Chicago favorites – WILDE for not one, but two great dining experiences during this trip! I’ll entice you to visit with the photos below.
Hint: Do your due diligence on the return trip!
Before starting out we gave “Phoebe”, my car, a “once over”. We checked the tires, added coolant before we hit the highways, and refilled the invaluable windshield wiper fluid. Unlike our trip from west to east, this time we would cross the country along the northern plains and some southwest states. Through Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, a few miles in Arizona, and Nevada we would drive before arriving in California. I was excited to step foot in Iowa and Nebraska – two states I have never visited.
Illinois has endless tolls.
I love Chicago. And, parts of Illinois are truly charming. But, the toll roads were too much! Like Indiana, Illinois was filled with tolls and more tolls. Plus, there is signage that confused us! How many college degrees do you need to know where to drive in Illinois? Sadly, our collective number wasn’t enough as we ended up driving much longer in Illinois than we had anticipated. Enough said.
Iowa – flat but fluffy!
Finally, for what seemed like an eternity – we left Illinois and arrived in Des Moines. I am pretty sure we stopped at a Cracker Barrel. But, honestly after the 6th one or so, you stop counting.
Iowa is flat, but the low clouds on the horizon gave it a sense of “fluffiness” that day. Marj and I decided to keep the “pedal to the metal” and make it to Nebraska before dusk. And, we did. I don’t have much to say about Iowa except that I get to check it off my “50 states visited” list. Oh – also we crossed the Mississippi River!
The weather turned on us once we hit Nebraska. Fluffy clouds became rain clouds and the pretty vistas were – bleh. We stopped along the way to eat in Lincoln, Nebraska. I learned to play Keno in a honky tonk bar that was open for an early dinner. We finally quit driving after nearly 9 or more hours to sleep at a hotel located on the state border of Nebraska and Colorado. I was very disappointed that the Nebraska Souvenir Shop was closed before we could get there and opened after we left. I would have liked to see what was considered “local to Nebraska”.
Colorado started off as a fun state. We visited the Overland Trail Museum for a while. That was an interesting place and I loved the doll collection they housed. They had a fair amount of quilts, vintage clothing, and relics from old ranches and farms. School children were visiting and that was lovely to see. Kind of made me think Covid was soon to be in the “rear view mirror”. Let’s just say this early morning stop was the best part of the day.
I will take a moment to digress. There are very few times in my life where I truly have been a nervous wreck driving. I have hit major fog in Salt Lake City trying to get to an airport and snow that was coming down in buckets on back roads of Pennsylvania. I have driven the Redwood Forest area of Northern California where I was overwhelmed by the enormity of the trucks carrying huge loads of trees being brought to sawmills. They traveled on roads that seemed way too narrow for one, let alone two, vehicles – but the weather was clear and the skies were blue – so I learned to “share the road”. Note: All of these experiences TOGETHER do not add up to the what we would encounter in Colorado on Interstate 70.
First, let’s talk altitude. Keep in mind I live at SEA LEVEL. So, my idea of “altitude” is a few thousand feet, not 10 thousand feet and higher. When you are afraid your snack bags and soda cans will burst – you know it is HIGH!
Driving through this part of the country is like playing weather roulette. One minute it is 62 degrees and light rain, the next torrential rain, then the temperature falls 25 degrees in five minutes and the roads nearly become a skating rink. Compound all this “fun” with changes in barometric pressure coupled with altitude adjustments and you have one throbbing headache. Both Marj and I felt the need to stop before Vail, Colorado to get our bearings. Good move as we had no other viable rest stop for quite some time. Bad move because we both really felt the altitude change – and not in a good way. In fact, many of the people who were at this rest stop looked a bit weary and ill. After downing a ton of water we got back on the road and ended up in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Other people stopped here too due to a truck that flipped and closed both sides of the highway.
Just for informational purposes here is what I found about this little “scenic” drive that we survived:
Connecting Grand Junction to Denver is Interstate 70 that passes over the continental divide via Loveland Pass at an altitude of 11,990 ft. This is the highest point anywhere in the U.S. interstate highway system. The route is known for stretches of steep grades, twisting turns and treacherous winter conditions. The specter of altitude sickness going over the numerous passes poses a hazard as well. Add in heavy traffic laden with out-of-state drivers all headed to the ski resorts and it’s easy to see why car accidents are common. As the main access from Denver to the famed resorts like Vail and Aspen, this route is notorious for large-scale congestion during the ski season. A route that is 90 minutes in summer can turn into a frustrating 3-4 hours snarled in bumper to bumper traffic. In 2008 alone over 1,900 accidents were reported in the corridor. It has gotten so bad the locals have a saying, “Friends don’t let friends drive I-70.”
Source: The Five Most Dangerous Roads in Colorado
I believe if the circumstances were different this would have been a fun stop with a chance to sight-see. The town seemed enchanting and a bit quirky. There are hot springs and also a cable car ride to the mountain top. But, once in the hotel I wasn’t going anywhere until the next day or when the weather cleared. What a shame as I love quirky.
I HEART Utah.Bryce Canyon – Zion Canyon
Of all the states we visited, I was most excited to spend time in Utah. So was Marj. So we set out early and drove and drove and drove until we finally reached Salina, Utah for lunch. Here we dined at Mom’s Diner. Thanks to the “cowboy” who sat next to us and gave us great advice, we made our way to Bryce Canyon. A “short 110 miles” he told us. Yep – it was a 110 miles, short it was not. But, the ride to the canyon was worth it to see the Natural Bridge and the amazing circle of rocks at the last stop. Marj had read up on hints about visiting Bryce. So, we decided it was best to start at the back of the canyon and work to the front. We also hit the park later in the day when many were leaving and it was less crowded. That was quite helpful on many accounts. First, there was construction to get in and out of the park. Later in the day resulted in less waiting. Secondly, there was something magical about late afternoon sunshine bouncing off the rocks.
Our trip from Bryce through Zion was the highlight of our trip. Sure, we had seen beautiful landscapes across the country – but NOTHING compared to these two national parks and the gateway between them. We made it to Zion National Park after eating a lovely dinner a bit outside their northeast gate. It was on some kind of a farm to table family “resort”. At first we thought that driving through the park would be a “bummer” as it had a hefty price tag at $35 per car. But, as our luck would have it – we drove in to the park just as the sun was about to set and the guard let us in for FREE.
This drive can’t be accurately described. There are simply not enough adjectives. Yet, I will try. Through the narrow and windy switchback roads we drove from the top to the bottom of Zion. Almost a full hour from end to end and worth every second. Through tunnels that were pitch black except for the lights from vehicles and across narrow bridges that seemed to hug the rock walls. Each twist and turn unfolded an amazing array of colors and rock formations. As the sun became further down the horizon the rocks changed color and the park took on so many different hues – it was stunning. Sadly, both my iPhone and Marj’s were dead and for some reason we couldn’t get them to charge quick enough to take photos. I guess that means we will need to return and do it again. Gladly.
Nevada – Mesquite
We spent our last night in a so-so hotel in Mesquite, Nevada. We would have gone to Primm or Las Vegas but the day was long and we were tired. Frankly to do it again, I would have taken a quick nap, drank a large coffee, and pressed on. This was the low point of our trip and I barely slept due to the room being less than stellar and more likely the cause of my humongous allergy attack.
There is no place like home.
After almost a month on the road, countless tanks of gas, and a slew of adventures to chat about for years – we were home. I am grateful for the experience. I would do it again in a heartbeat – but slower. I would plan more stops and really get to know each area. Marj and I both agreed that this was a very special trip – worth repeating.
I encourage you to dare to venture beyond your town, your state, your region, and explore the United State to really appreciate how vast and amazing it is.
Final Tips for Driving Across the United States
Keep a journal with notes about what you saw and where you stopped. Add some stories from the local people you met. Add some anecdotes that you would like to share, too.
Take a lot of photos.
Write a blog to share with others using your journal notes and photos. 🙂