Friday, August 29, 2014

How I Spent My Summer Vacation


This blog is part of a blog hop sponsored by Christina Cole Romance. I hope you enjoy reading my post as well as those by others participating in the hop. Check out the end of my post for details on special offers.

 Lesson 1 on how to annoy the husband: Buck decided last year that he wanted to save up to go to Mount Rushmore. He wanted to see the presidents. I was all for that idea. What he had not planned on was me turning this vacation into the kid and grandkid tour which added miles of travel and dollars of expense. But, in the end, even he agreed it was one of our best decisions ever.

Lesson 2 on how to annoy the husband: I set up a travel itinerary where we travel 5 to 8 hours almost every day in order to get everywhere we plan to go when we need to be there. The first day, we ended up traveling 13 hours. Excluding the fast and furious trip to take the granddaughter back home to Arkansas after she spent over a week visiting family out west, we traveled a total of 5,588 miles in 18 days. For most of those miles we pulled a trailer, which slows ya down, let me tell ya.
 We started by meandering east through Arizona to spend a little time in some towns that I wanted to see off the beaten I-40 path. We toured the first governor’s “mansion” and Pioneer Museum in Prescott, Arizona. Due to tire problems (over the course of the trip across Arizona and New Mexico, we replaced all four tires on the trailer) we did not have enough time to see Fort Whipple. A future trip....I will be the first to admit that we should have left three days earlier.

Lesson 3 on how to annoy the husband: From there we traveled to Las Vegas, New Mexico. There is a lot of history in that little city. Many of the outlaws and lawmen back in the 19th century managed to make their way to this area for a time, many of them staying in the Plaza Hotel. I thought I was doing so good setting up this itinerary so we would have time to see everything. Unfortunately, the museum was closed the day we were there. We are already planning another trip back. (Oh, darn! He-he....)

 We picked up one of my sons and a granddaughter in Arkansas, and then we headed north towards South Dakota. Driving through Kansas City, Missouri evening rush hour traffic to get to our campground was not one of the highlights of the trip, but touring the Steamboat Museum with all the artifacts from the Steamboat Arabia which sank in the Missouri river in 1856 was. This was the second time I have been to the museum and it was a “must see” on our itinerary. I don’t have my pictures of some of the exhibits posted yet, but if you want to catch them when I do, please go to my “Trails and Rails” blog at and sign up to follow it by email.

We crossed South Dakota and stayed three nights in Custer Gulch, the same area where George Armstrong Custer stayed with the Expeditionary Force in 1874 to determine if there was gold in the Black Hills. This did not make the Sioux happy since this land had been given to them as a reservation. But, we all know how well the white man was about keeping his treaties and promises with the native tribes back in the day.....

From there, we toured the Black Hills region starting with Buck’s initial vacation objective, Mount Rushmore. It definitely was a “must see.”
 After buying T-shirts for everyone, we worked our way up to Deadwood. That is another place with plenty to see. Unfortunately, it was late enough in the day that we missed some of the museums. But, we did get to see Mt. Moriah, the cemetery where “Wild Bill” Hickok and Calamity Jane are buried.
 Lesson 4 on how to annoy the husband:  Day two in the Black Hills, we started south to Hot Springs to see the Mammoth Dig. While driving through town, I saw a sign with directions to the Hot Springs Pioneer Museum. So, after tromping around the mammoth dig and museum (more T-shirts), I convinced him we need to see this museum.
 The Hot Springs, South Dakota museum has one of the best collection of artifacts I have ever seen in a small, local museum, including great displays of antique quilts, weavings and sewing machines. I already have the quilt collection posted on my quilt blog which you can see here. While you are visiting that blog, please sign up to receive it by email so you can see the other pictures when they get posted.
 From there we went to the Custer, South Dakota 1881 Courthouse Museum, named that because, in 1881, it served as the courthouse for Custer County. It also had a small quilt collection which you can see here. One room was dedicated to images and information about the 1874 Black Hills Expedition which will be posted in the future on my Trails and Rails blog .

 Lesson 5 on how to annoy the husband: I waited until we had started the eight hour trip from the Black Hills on our way to the Denver area. Somewhere in the middle of the almost uninhabited wilds of the Wyoming prairie, I perused the map and excitedly declared, “Oh look! With just a little 20-30 mile detour off the beaten path, we can go see Fort Laramie!"

Now, I know that Fort Laramie is in the middle of nowhere as far as modern highways go, but back in the day--meaning the 1840s through the 1860s--it was THE stopping place along the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails.

So, we crossed the South Platte River, spent two and a half hours touring the fort, which put us getting into Denver late--rush hour traffic, again--but, hey! We got to see Fort Laramie!

In the Denver area, we visited with family. It was a great reunion with three of my sons and families. We stayed in Cherry Creek State Park, which is a wetlands area and reservoir set in the middle of the metropolitan Denver area. While hiking part of the park, it was hard to remember we were surrounded by big cities.

It was here that we put my son on a bus to travel back to his home since he needed to return to his job. That was part of the reason for our fast and furious travel itinerary--we wanted to allow him to see as much as possible in the week of vacation he had available.

 Buck, our granddaughter and I traveled on to northern Utah. On the way we stopped in Laramie, Wyoming so we could see--what else?--the Wyoming Historical Territorial Prison. Buck bought a hat and his “The original bed and breakfast" T-shirt there.

This prison housed several noteworthy inmates back in the day including Butch Cassidy. This photo of him is his mug shot.

  In the Ogden area, we toured the Union Station museum with its collection of classic cars, Browning gun collection and the Transcontinental Railroad display. In the 1800s, Ogden was the closest big city to Promontory Point, the place where the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific Railroads were joined at the Golden Spike ceremony which marked the beginning of the Transcontinental Railroad. 
We also spent a few hours at the Eccles Dinosaur Park, one of my granddaughter’s favorite places to tour (more T-shirts).

 Lesson 6 on how to annoy the husband: I probably took over 2,000 pictures on this trip. However, in the process of downloading them to the computer, I managed to delete 200-300 of them, including the ones we took at Promontory Point with Buck standing next to the Comet and the Jupiter. We will have to go back again, maybe around May 10th when they have their reenactment of the Golden Spike ceremony, but we will not be able to restore those lost pictures which included our granddaughter.

After leaving the Ogden area, we traveled south to drop the granddaughter off to visit her other grandpa and grandma in southern Utah. On the way we stopped at Cove Fort which was built out in the middle of nowhere in central Utah. Once again, most of my good pictures of the fort were lost. I only have a few I took with my cell camera.

After touring Zion’s National Park (those pictures, including the one of the mountain goats Buck wanted for his tablet wallpaper, were among the lost), we headed home. I like taking pictures of the Southwest desert when I run across a distinctive land feature. I particularly like to take pictures of trains, because oftentimes there isn’t much else of interest to look at. This train happens to be in Barstow, California, which meant, in a relative sort of way, we were almost home.

Lesson 7 on how to annoy the husband: At the beginning of the vacation, Buck laid down the law. NO WRITING WHILE WE ARE ON VACATION! Okay, I didn’t write. But I fixed him good. Not only did I take pictures and research many historical museums, I bought over $700 worth of research books.

My historical western novels are not out yet, but you might enjoy my two New Adult novels which, include not only time travel, but also include historical settings as part of the plot.

You can purchase the first book in the Aurora Series, AuroraRescue, at Amazon by clicking here.

You can purchase it from Barnes & Noble for Nook by clicking here.

Or, you can purchase it in print from Barnes & Nobel by clicking here.

The second book in the Aurora Series, AuroraRedress, you can purchase from Amazon for Kindle by clicking here

 You can purchase it from Barnes & Noble for Nook by clicking here.

I hope you have enjoyed this brief summary of how I spent my vacation, not to mention my tutorial on how to annoy a husband.

As part of this blog hop, the sponsor, Christina Cole Romance, has a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card. For a chance to win this prize, please click here.

You can read the other blog posts and increase your chance to win some prizes by clicking here and going to her blog. Follow the links to the other blogs participating in this hop.

In addition, to thank you for reading about my vacation adventures, I am offering a $10 Amazon gift card and a $5 dollar Target gift card. To qualify for my drawing, please do the following:

1.  Sign up to receive future posts to this blog by email.
2.  Write a response to this post in the comments section below.

This "How I Spent My Vacation" hop contest is open from August 29 through August 31. I will throw all the names from the posts made during those dates in Buck’s cowboy hat and draw the winners. I will post the winners of my drawing on the evening of September 1st (after I get back from another quick trip to the mountains), so check back on Tuesday, September 2nd. If you are one of my winners, I will give you instructions on how you can send me your contact information in order to receive your prize.