It began in May with the previously-blogged trip to Orlando. From there we flew to Philadelphia to visit an old friend of mine...the best part of the trip for me. This had been a spontaneous add-on while I was booking the flight to Orlando, since several of the connecting flights were through Philly...I figured, hey, let's go say "Hi" to Angie!! She and Dan were awesome hosts. Any weight I had lost while sweating in Florida was made up for by her delicious cooking.
Down on South Street.
While in Philly, we paid our respects to the Liberty Bell (what a zoo that is), Ben Franklin and Betsy Ross. We missed out on a tour of Independence Hall but we did Ride the Ducks! And with all due respect to New Jersey, Brendan's most vivid childhood memory of that state will be the hippo, "It pooped!!" in the water right in front of us at the Camden Aquarium. (Discovery Channel's "Dirty Jobs" has a segment with Mike Rowe cleaning said poo from the hippo tank.) On our last day we visited the Please Touch Museum, an awesome place for kids.
We weren't home even a week from Philly and it was off to Denver, driving this time. A friend of Kirsteen's from Scotland, Jackie, that she hadn't seen in years, was attending a conference there. It's also where Kirsteen grew up (Boulder) and she has family there...so this vacation was a no-brainer. Kirsteen's cousin Chris and his wife Cheryl offered all of us (even Jackie) to stay at their home just a block off City Park. They too were awesome hosts, complete with two new black kittens...one of which, Lucky, was very tolerant of Brendan and kept all of us company at night.
Oh yeah, we got interrupted by the Vice President: We're driving across City Park in Denver, just about to make the last turn to Chris and Cheryl's neighborhood...but there's cops everywhere (!) directing all traffic to turn around. So I detour through the park to cross the main road further south...no go!! We call up Cheryl on the cell phone, "Hey, is your neighborhood in lockdown?" And then it was all gone. Turns out Joe Biden had just given a speech at the Science and Nature Museum and we ran into his motorcade.
Kolob Canyons Overlook - Zion National Park
In late July we did another multi-way trip, first driving to Cedar City for a four-night stay at a bed and breakfast while enjoying plays at the Utah Shakespearean Festival. Then we went down to Zion for a couple of days, touring most of the park by car or shuttle-bus. Kirsteen out-hiked me on the Virgin River Trail. Brendan and I had hung back figuring we'd catch up to Kirsteen later...nope, we gave up after a mile. From there we drove to Santa Barbara to visit Grandpa and "Grandma Rosary" (Rosemarie).
In early September I took off on my own for two days of exploration. I camped overnight on Pinal Mountain near Globe; I'd always been curious what was up there, kinda nice actually. The next day I headed for Cherry Creek Canyon in the Sierra Anchas. It's a rough 35-mile, sometimes four-wheel drive which I probably shouldn't have been doing alone...especially with summer monsoons following and then catching up to me a few miles from the top end of the canyon.
I bailed on camping out in the deluge and headed toward home, passing the leading edge of the storm as it rolled off the southern escarpment of the mountains. More than one bolt of lightning blasted the forest floor with nary a startle before thunder exploded. I was glad to be inside a vehicle, but not too sure about testing the Faraday-cage principle. Down below and finally ahead of the show with dusk setting in, I had to park and take in one of the most spectacular lightning displays I've ever seen.
In the first week of fall we flew up to Calgary to visit my family, including my young niece, Rachelle. We took the kids to the Calgary Zoo one day; I still think it is one of the best. Next day, we visit the iconic Heritage Park, a recreation of Calgary in the 1880s and a place of many memories; from squashing coins on the railroad tracks to the blooming of a teenage romance. Unfortunately, Brendan got horribly sick with a high fever and spent the second half of the trip sedentary and snuggling in various laps.
Brendan and Rachelle's brother, Quaid, ham it up at the zoo; then it's the hunt for the fattest of the prairie dogs.
A railroad push-car is set up in the round house at Heritage Park.