You may remember the reason for the birth of this blog was due to the fact our family was taking a Star-Spangled Adventure across this great country of ours. And, we wanted Great-Grandma to follow along with us. It was very hard to keep up on the blogging while we traveled, but there is a quite a bit that made it to the blog.
If you want to read the posts for the trip, they are organized under Star-Spangled Adventures 2007. Otherwise, for our annual Christmas news letter, I wrote a BRIEF summary of our trip. I will paste it here now. It may be a brief summary, but, I warn you, it is by no means brief! :) If you receved our Christmas newsletter in the mail.......you have already read this.
To celebrate the 20th Anniversary of our annual newsletter, we looked for something exciting to share with all of you. Aha! Let’s take an amazing trip! A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Last fall, Marty thought it might be time to take a REAL vacation as a family, before our baby birds start leaving the nest. Most of our vacations have revolved around places where we need to go, such as reunions and celebrations. He said we can consider anywhere, though we may not leave the good ol’ US of A.
These Haven kids LOVE their history, and the idea of relaxing on beaches in Hawaii, when they could be looking at paintings in the National Gallery of Art or exploring the homes of Jefferson & Washington made for an easy choice. Except for Anne & Chari, no one in the family had ever been to Washington, DC. Then we started thinking (as we are known to do when planning a trip :) )…..DC is so close to Philly, and NYC, and Boston, and our cousins in NH…….so, we can fly there, rent a car, take a visit, and fly home. Nope, let’s use the money for flying to DRIVE ACROSS THE USA, and see more, experience more. And, in January, we committed.
As Chari explored the possible routes, a plan came into perspective, and we had an itinerary for 8 weeks of travel! Since Marty could not take 2 months off from work, we arranged for him to fly out to spend a week with us. It took about four months to get all of the planning completed, the reservations made, deciding where to go, what to see, who to visit...
As Chari has been part of a very special Catholic homeschooling network, on the Internet, there were several families we could stay with on the way. A few family members, too.
Not having unlimited funds at our disposal, we found ways to keep costs down: camping when possible, eating at least two meals a day out of our cooler (sometimes eating only TWO meals :) ), having FREE experiences, only purchasing special souvenirs (usually books, of course! :) ).
When we first began planning, Chari mentioned we needed to pray to God to help us figure out if our old Blue Beast (’87 Suburban) could handle the trip. God let us know quite clearly, a newer model was needed for such travels. And, He found us such a great car! It all fell into place so providentially, it had to be His doing. We are the proud owners of a Raspberry Red, 2001 GMC Yukon XL….aka Beauty. We just love that car, it fits us so perfectly. It is a joy to drive. Good thing, as we had to drive it for 10,000 miles in the first few months of ownership!
Please know that ahead of you lies a mini-journal of our trip. Of course, our trip would need a title…….it was dropped into our hands:
OUR STAR-SPANGLED ADVENTURE
Day1: To Nevada~stayed night with Aunt Jennifer, who was in bed by the time we arrived :) late~pizza with Georgie-Pop
Day 2: Shopped clothes for girls~ enjoyed homeschooling friends, the Z's~spent night at Georgie-Pop’s, watching movies~
Day 3: Visited Grandma Ley in morn, headed east on I-50, the “Loneliest Road in America”~ saw pranghorn antelope, Eureka Opera House, beautiful Utah sunset~set up camp in the dark~slept at very nice KOA in Fillmore, Utah~
Day 4: To Arches National Park~scenery on drive amazing~set up camp in daylight near the Colorado River~drove & hiked Arches till dusk~sand in shoes~another gorgeous Utah sunset~took a hundred photos & lots of video~
Day 5: Drove Colorado National Monument ~braved the heights (oh, my!)~followed the Colorado River~crossed the Rockies through the mile-long tunnel~gorgeous sunset over the Rockies~saw elk~pillows down at homeschooling friends, who greeted us with roasted marshmallows & foosball~
Day 6: Relaxed & played today~boys played ball~girls shopped~looked for a quilt shop, to no avail~laundry & great conversation~
Day 7: Toured Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory (including the sinus-clearing “mint room”) & drooled through gift shop (everybody coming away with gifts & treasures), with new friends~concluded with a picnic & thunder-showers~found Colorado quilt quarters~enjoyed one amazing traveling Broadway musical in Denver: WICKED, letting Aunt Jennifer enjoy a few songs live, via cellphone~amazing idea :) So exciting! A BIG highlight of the trip!
Day 8: West~ visited with Our Lord at a beautiful church~then south, to visit friends on the Colorado prairie~ tasty dinner & fun company~lots kids!
Day 9: Busy day: homemade cinnamon rolls, mmmm~east on I-70~ride Kit County Carousel~visit Prairie Museum of Art & History~ride into 5 hours of a Kansas storm (think marbles, & then bullets, hitting the car ever-so-constantly & tornado warnings!) ~halfway thru storm, witness rainbows & glorious sunset~gorgeous “Cathedral of the Plains”~arrive at one in the morning, thanks to storm, to the home of a very understanding hostess :) ~Deo gratias!
Day 10: Lunched with new friends at Toto’s Tacos~toured The Wizard of Oz Museum~yummy lavender chocolates from the “Emerald City” store~St.Mary’s Museum~spent $$ at wonderful Catholic bookstore~great quilt store~great dinner!
Day 11: Mass at St. Mary’s~explored the old Jesuit college~crossed Missouri River to Independence, Missouri & Frontier Trails Museum ~avoided a car-jacking L ~stay in St. Louis hotel~watch “Flower Drum Song” on DVD~sleep~
Day 12: Mass in beautiful, old St. Louis church~visit St. Louis Arch & Expansion Museum & Court house where Dred Scott case took place & St. Louis Cathedral~ride the Tom Sawyer riverboat on the Mighty & Muddy Mississippi~lovely & breezy!
Day 13: Forest Park, St Louis, site of 1903 World’s Fair~roamed the St Louis Zoo, wandered the park & fountains~saved great seats for Shakespeare in the Park, Much Ado About Nothing, western style (excellent!)~made a new friend, who just happened to be a docent at the art museum~very convenient for the next day~very delightful day!
Day 14: Departed hotel~met our docent at the St. Louis Museum of Art & had a wonderful, personal tour~crossed the Mississippi & into Illinois, & then Indiana~our dear friend & former midwife of our homebirths, Andrea, met us at the door of her home in Indianapolis with a yummy Mexican buffet, hot tub, roasted marshmallows & hugs~happy were we! We miss her so much at Our Hearts' Haven, even after 12 yrs! Enchanting evening!
Day 15: Visited our favorite quilt shop ever :) on way out of Indy~crossed into Ohio to spend time with Marty’s cousins in Massillon, who provided a tasty meal (Thanks, Michelle!) & yummy cookies (Thanks, Denny & Jodie)~we loved Michelle showing us Jiddee’s haunts~we drove to, & then along, the Ohio River to our homeschooling friend Molly’s house, arriving quite late~seemed every home had a spooky candle in the window~even the cemetery was glowing…….creepy :)~her chickens were roosting in the bush~quite a fun picture~
Day 16: Visited with Molly & family~so hot & humid~went swimming~attended a local concert ~enjoyed Molly’s precious gift of not one, but TWO Fiesta tea pots, both in matching colors to our kitchen~Thank you, Molly! We sure enjoy them!
Day 17: Crossed into West Virginia on way to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania~spent an extremely hot & humid (& thirsty!) day touring the grounds of the battlefield~trespassed through Maryland on way to Virginia, to Mary Chris’ home in time for dinner, before picking Marty up at the airport in DC~thank goodness her husband Jim was such a great help in getting us in & out of the airport! The kids were so happy to play, play & play!
Day 18: With the entire family reunited, we spent the day exploring Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson~ arriving at Mary Chris’ in time for dinner, again :) & to meet a few homeschooling internet friends & more play!
Day 19: Sunday found us at Mass in Alexandria ~we traveled to DC & the National Basilica, exploring every alcove & shrine, including a relief of St. Malachy! Found our hotel & a tight spot for our car :) & had a late meal, a common occurrence~
Day 20: Our BIG walking day: Toured the Capital~watched a “session”~peeked into Supreme Court~Bob Hope exhibit at Library of Congress~ Smithsonian Castle, Air & Space Museum (Wright Brothers’ Plane) & Natural History Museum (Hope Diamond)~walked DC to White House, National Monument & other sites~another late meal :)
Day 21: Found the Metro :) (first subway ride for 6 of us) ~National Gallery of Art (ONLY DaVinci in western hemisphere)~National Archives (Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights, Magna Carta)~dinner (on time) at Union Station (otherwise known to us country folk: Over-stimulation Station) in a downpour~ topping the day off with a three hour tour of the Monuments on a Twilight bus tour (Lincoln, Jefferson, Vietnam & Korean Memorials, FDR Monument)
Day 22: Left our hotel as the SWAT team arrived across the street~walked Arlington National Cemetery & viewed changing of the guard at Tomb of Unknown Soldier~took Metro back to DC & somehow got tour tickets at the National Holocaust Museum~drove back to Mary Chris’ home in the DC traffic (ugh) where Marty treated for “California” pizza, in Virginia :)~go, figure
Day 23: Spent a very lovely & picturesque day at Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home~returned to Mary Chris’ home, in the DC traffic (ugh, again)~kids relaxed & played~Marty packed for an early flight home & kissed the kids goodbye :(
Day 24: Marty flew home :( ~we packed the car~met new homeschooling friends & headed to Manassas Battlefield, where we toured, visited & said goodbye to Mary Chris’ family :( ~ drove west, into the Shenandoah River Valley, to stay with our dear friends, the W's~ rested, visited, played, rested, great conversation, sleep~~~
Day 25: Saw the Frontier Culture Museum, including a picnic sweetly provided by our friends~stopped by New Market Battlefield (VA) to see movie & museum~spent evening at a laundry mat~$3.50 a load for wash!!! Yikes.
Day 26: Slept in for first time on adventure ~attended Mass~left little boys with friends to take big kids to see the third “Pirates of Caribbean” movie~teens walked to the Shenandoah River at dusk~captured a lovely Virginia sunset
Day 27: Found very cool “See the USA” fabric at a Mennonite quilt shop~bookstore shopping~wandered through a Mennonite indoor farmer’s market ~Returned to New Market Battlefield, walking the "Field of Lost Shoes"....very touching & a great view over the Shenandoah River~got rained on~went out for ice cream cones after dinner with the W's
Day 28: North to Maryland for two National shrines: Grotto of Lourdes & Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton on probably the HOTTEST & HUMID-EST :/ day of our journey~prayed for all of you~cooled off in the Gettysburg visitor center~hit more thunder-showers on way to Hershey, Pennsyvania~were shocked & disappointed at the over-stimulation at Hershey’s Chocolate World & so left quickly, after a Disney-esque tour~more storm on way to Michele’s home in Lancaster, PA~met with a late dinner (thank you, M!), fun conversation, poker playing & safety from the tempest raging out of doors~Malachy & Maddelyn came down with HOT fevers just before bed :/
Day 29: Garrett awakened with a fever~we toured Philadelphia (Liberty Bell, Ben Franklin Museum & lots more) while Anne & Matthew came down with fevers~crossed New Jersey on way to campground in Long Island, New York where we set the tent up moments before dark~$20 for tolls on roads & bridges in ONE day!
Day 30: Everyone awakened feeling better~no fevers, Deo gratias! ~Found Oyster Bay & the peaceful summer home of Theodore Roosevelt, where we hiked to the water of the Atlantic to put our toes in the water~lost a screw in Chari’s glasses & actually discovered a Lenscrafter’s on Long Island~ found our way to the hotel in Long Island City, across the river from Manhattan, passing a very interesting cemetary~settled in for an evening of rest, watching “42nd Street” & popcorn for our movie night~excited about three days in NYC! Half-way thru our trip today!
Day 31: Hit the subway, and spent the day exploring:~Liberty Island & the Statue of Liberty~Ellis Island & Museum~walked up to Ground Zero~Museum of Modern Art where we saw STARRY, STARRY NIGHT by Vincent Van Gogh & Picasso's THREE MUSICIANS~walked up 5th Avenue~Times Square for sunset, and dinner. To bed late! :) Discovered one of the kids sleepwalking in the hallway at 3am...talk about frightening! Shudder!
Day 32: Times Square in morning~bought silk scarves on 5th Avenue~American National History Museum~walked a bit in Central Park~Dinner & sunset in Times Square again~somehow found ourselves some seats, very high up, but still in the theater :), for Phantom of the Opera~another late night, but happily!
Day 33: Late start (surprise)~ Located the Cloisters (art of Middle Ages, part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art-“the Met”) in the most beautiful park on the Hudson River~walked the park~spent a couple of hours at the Met before being “kicked out” at closing time~browsed the American Girl Place~Malachy finally enjoyed ice cream on the steps of the NYC Public Library~rode subway A LOT today~early to hotel for packing up & good night’s sleep~yes!
Day 34: Left NYC, north to Sleepy Hollow Village, home of Washington Irving, author of Legend of Sleepy Hollow~climbed around the SH Cemetary, which inspired the story~an old man mowing the graveyard gave an incredible storytelling experience, just for us~so cool & spooky~toured the village area a bit~drove east, through Connecticut, stopping in the town of Georgie-Pop’s birthplace ~SO MANY TREES!~found our way to Rhode Island in time for a sunset & finally made our way to Plymouth, Massachusetts, whereby we set up our tent in the dark, yet again, at midnight!! A very long day!!
Day 35: Another very hot & humid day, but oh, so much fun!~we discovered The Mayflower replica & living history~checked out Plymouth Rock (yep, it looks like a rock :)) & various statues & fun tourist shops~spent the afternoon at Plymouth Plantation with its awesome living history program~very interactive~short drive to our hotel on a river, in Quincy, to prepare for a few days in Boston~pizza for dinner~and a place to do laundry, finally!
Day 36: Subway ride to Boston & the Freedom Trail (in 100* weather! Phew!)~walked most of the trail, visiting the sites of the birthplace of our American Revolution~on to the Boston Fine Arts Museum~viewed every single item!~A ridiculously expensive dinner at museum café~subway ride to hotel & laundry & blessed sleep~
Day 37: We had an amazing day! We finished the Freedom Trail, seeing Old Ironsides & Paul Revere sites~topped off the day with dinner and a show: Oscar & Tony night with The Boston Pops! WOW! It was such a spontaneous treat!
Day 38: Visited birthplaces of John Adams & John Quincy Adams & their final home~found “Sweet land of Liberty” quilt fabric~set up our tent in the dark, again, just outside of Concord & Lexington
Day 39: Very full day exploring Concord & Lexington~saw homes of Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne & his daughter, Rose (up for canonization!), Margaret Sidney & Thoreau~bought new LMA books~took in Revolutionary War sites~hiked ALL of the way around Walden Pond~pillowed our heads in New Hampshire at our cousins’ home, who moved away from here 11 yrs ago, seeing them for the first time ~it was a wonderful reception~time for late night chats!
Day 40: Attended Mass, some of us twice~had the best day hanging out with nine of ten cousins & their spouses & kids, and Aunt Chris & Uncle David~everyone hit it off like they were old friends~it was wonderful~we sure miss them
Day 41: Another day with New Hampshire cousins~quilt store~covered bridges~hot dog roast in the rain~a swim in a lake~visits with cousins Sister Maria Philomena & Sister Mary Peter~ more great conversations until late hours
Day 42: Goodbye to cousins~stop at extremely full quilt store in (overwhelming)~drive through Adirondack Mountains to Fort Ticonderoga~kids saw their first drive-in movie (Ratatouille) along with a picnic~had a difficult time finding campground~Aunt Jenn helped us in NV via mapquest~followed into our campsite by a creepy car at midnight~slept in car since it was so late~NOT recommended :) for 7!
Day 43: July 4th Awakened~never got out of car~just drove straight to Dunkin Donuts~fought the bugs at North American Martyrs’ Shrine in Auriesville, NY, but enjoyed it very much~missed road to Saint Kateri’s Shrine L ~ refused service (what?) at our campsite near Niagara Falls~Marty found us a Best Western last minute~spent evening at the Falls~watched fireworks through the smoke-argh! Rode a trolley car~hiked around park~misty rain
Day 44: Spent day in Niagara State Park~walked under & next to Bridal Veil Falls~took a boat ride to the Horseshoe Falls~walked over the river to see all of the falls~visited a geology museum & an aquarium~found a closed quilt store :) ~drove to Massillon, Ohio, with last minute need to stay with Haven cousins~wonderful welcome on short notice!
Day 45: Enjoyed a delicious breakfast & barbeque lunch with our cousins in their gorgeous backyard~saw a beautiful Catholic Church~awesome Ohio quilt store~long drive on country roads to west of Toledo hotel with swimming till midnight! YAY!
Day 46: Extremely looong drive to Chicago through more toll booths than in all of our trip (or so it seemed!)~strange urban quilt store~had to pray for a parking space in Chicago (only cost $20/2hrs! yikes)~quick visit to Art Instiute of Chicago~hit the road with Starbucks on board~caught a gorgeous Wisconsin sunset~last hotel chance for laundry~up till 4am finishing! Starbucks is effective!
Day 47: Discovered Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods & museum~crossed the Mississippi River for the last time, into Minnesota~actually set up tent & site before dusk ~swimming till dark~dinner in dark, with way-too-many-bugs-to-count~light rain & blessed sleep, ah
Day 48: Obtained great fat quarters for state of Minnesota~could not find St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary~then accidentally found it~just took a drive through~ visited Walnut Grove, of Little House on the Prairie Fame~hit the museum & the dugout house On the Banks of Plum Creek, too~Malachy lost 1st baby tooth~tent up before dark near Lake Benton
Day 49: Amazingly full day began with extreme winds blowing our tents sideways~west, in DeSmet, South Dakota, toured two Little House schools & two LH homes~then south~west again~Atka Lakota Indian Museum~South Dakota quilt shop~wonderful & affordable antique shop~hang by Missouri River, site of Lewis & Clark camp~tent up by dusk!
Day 50: Stumbled on a highlight of the trip: 1880 Town~kids dressed in western costumes to visit the 30-some buildings~lots of fun & photos~best sarsaparillas~drive through Badlands National Park~Mount Rushmore in full glory at night~WOW~
Day 51: Mount Rushmore in full glory with a sunrise on the faces~unique Christmas & quilt store ~Deadwood City~graves of Calamity Jane & Wild Bill Hickock~quilt store in Wyoming~looong drive to Yellowstone National Park, east entrance~arrived just after dusk, one hour from campsite~missed hitting a bison by a few feet~set up camp in very dark~so excited to be in Yellowstone!
Day 52: Chased the South Loop of Yellowstone~ herds of bison~herd of elk~geysers galore, including Old Faithful~colorful pools~stinky air~rushing rivers~waterfalls~gorgeous Yellowstone Lake & River~wonderful ranger-led talk~pelicans riding the rapids~wolves, four adults & five pups~sunset~Aah!
Day 53: Awakened by severe thunderstorm about 4:30am~one Rosary later, began day with wolves watch~very cool~moose siting~traveled the North Loop of Yellowstone~black bear siting~breathtaking scenery~mineral springs~more waterfalls~more geysers~lilypad ponds~head south for the Grand Teton National Park~more breathtaking scenery ~Sandhill Crane siting (a favorite bird!)~herd of bison on highway~camp in Jackson Hole near Snake River~dinner in the dark.....for the last time! :) Aah!
Day 54: Quite a boring & looong drive across Idaho~finish line in Eastern Oregon at friend Jodie’s home~excellent homecooked meal~fun conversation
Day 55: Nice visit in the morn with Jodie’s family~15 kids in all!~TWO nice quilt stores in Oregon~smoke from big OR & CA fires~HOME AT LAST~greeted by Matthew’s godmother & Maddelyn’s godfather & their 7 wonderful children! What a surprise & treat! Oh, happy day!
Day 56: Give Thanks to God for a safe & exciting journey! And, for our blessed home:
Our Hearts’ Haven
Phew! Every time I read this account, I am overwhelmed with the experience. It was one of the most amazing time of our life. The kids and I thank Marty frequently for these memories. Priceless!
God bless you, especially if you actually read this far! :)