Friday, June 25, 2010


We said goodbye to the giant Sequioas and zig-zagged through the fruit-fields of California to Yosemite National Park. What are the chances that you can get a camping spot without a reservation on Father's Day weekend in Yosemite? Actually, pretty good - if you are willing to make it a back country pass where you have to hike out of the valley and at least four miles away from the valley. So that's what we did. We pulled in at the South entrance to the park and went to the wilderness station. The ranger that helped us was some teeny-bopper high school kid. He signed us up to hike out on the Ililouette trail, spend two nights on the trail and return to the valley past glacier point. It looked like a nice hike. We would spend the night in the backpackers camp, then get up early the next day and hit the trail.

We rented our bear canister (where you keep all of your food, and anything with human smell on it, including your dirty toilet paper...crazy, I know) and headed towards the vallley. Good thing it was Father's Day weekend or else the traffic might have been bad. Oh wait...this was like standing in line at Cedar Point to get a parking spot, only you're in a line of cars instead of standing on the pavement. It took forever to find where we were going. There were people everywhere. Literally everywhere. It was nuts. Eventually we found our backpacker parking lot, and our backpacker camp. And just to make it easy (just kidding), they were not in the same spot.

Sunday morning arrived, and we loaded up our enormous tent and the rest of our gear and headed out of the valley. We hiked up, and up, and up, and up, and up, and up, and up some more. Slowly we left the crowds behind, but not before passing some amazing waterfall views. Around mid-afternoon we got out of the valley and headed out on our trail. We fully realized that we were alone in the wild. No one had checked our permit to know that we were heading in the right direction, and no one would check to see that we were back on time. If our parents hadn't heard from us in several days, or a week, they might think to call the park but by that time... anyway, we were out in the wild. Eventually we came to a river and our trail was supposed to cross the river. So we looked and saw the trail on the other side, but this was a wide river. In late summer or the fall it would have been a little creek, but with the spring snow melt, this was a big river. And it was at least waist deep, and moving pretty quick. We looked and looked and could not find a place shallow enough to cross. Then we met two guys coming down a different trail, we chatted, and they took off somewhere not following a trail. And they disappeared. I knew they had to have crossed the river, so we finally went the direction they did. And there it was. A huge log laid all the way across the river just for us to cross. Nevermind that it was probably 100 feet across, 6 or 7 feet above the river, and the best part---right over a waterfall. As one other hiker we met said: "If you fall off of that, it'd be a game ender." neither of us had trekking poles to help us balance ourselves, so we did the responsible thing and set up camp and decided to return the way we came from instead of continuing the loop. No sense in ruining the rest of the summer just to see glacier point.

We spent the night, packed up our things and put our packs back on our tired and bruised hip bones and headed back down to the valley on Monday morning. This time, the hike went fast. We made it the whole way back by early afternoon. We went back to the backpackers camp, set up camp, and still had time to go see the whole valley by bike. And by Monday, the weekend crowd had cleared out. Don't get me wrong, there were still a lot of people, but the masses had left.

Overall, I enjoyed Yosemite. It was a beautiful park with huge rock faces and high waterfalls. But the crowd and the traffic almost made it not worth it. I much more enjoyed Zion National Park in Utah. It was fun to get out into the backcountry, but I was ready to head to San Francisco and wine country.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Friday 6/18/2010

Life on the Road

Okay…so…life on the road can be a little difficult at times. Wednesday and Thursday were pretty rough. Wednesday we left Las Vegas and drove through Death Valley on our way to Sequoia National Park. It may have been the fact that I was tired from staying up too late every night in the city that never sleeps, or it could have been the fact that when air blew in our windows in Death Valley it felt like someone turned the heater on…high, or it might have been the fact that living in such a confined space day and night highlights every difference in opinion that Jeremy and I have, or it could just be that I am even more anal than I realized and without a predictable schedule of events each day I turn into a crazy lady! Whatever the case may be, I was not the easiest to live with for about two days there. It's okay though. When things seem to be at their worst, there is always some breathtaking mountain vista around the next curve, or a fantastic rushing river, or a forest with trees so big that they look like they belong in 'Honey I Shrunk the Kids'.

All that being said, I really should back up a bit, even before our mini vacation in Vegas with the roomies (including Bryson – who might as well live at our house).

This past weekend we were in Zion National Park in Utah. Did we already mention how beautiful Zion is? Amazing! I would definitely go back. It would be a fantastic place to vacation with a family even for a whole week. Who knew that Utah is so amazing? Anyway, Saturday we got a call from Terry and Kay (Jeremy's uncle and aunt) saying that they were going to be in Zion on Sunday. They had been vacationing with their family in Sedona, AZ and are taking the long route home in their little convertible! We decided that we would try to meet with them for lunch at Zion. They treated us to burgers and fries at the Zion Lodge about halfway up Zion Canyon. It was really nice. What fun to see familiar faces along the way! I just wish we could take the top down on our van sometimes to take in the scenery.

After leaving Zion, we headed strait for Vegas. Yeah, yeah…we have been there quite a bit over the past several years, it just keeps sucking us in. Usually it's the pull of the cheap airfare or extremely cheap or free hotel rooms. This time, it seemed to be an easy meeting point for a mini "family" vacation. Yep, that's right, the ShueMoorLLiamSons taking Vegas by storm. Unfortunately, we did not win any money this time! Well, I guess I did take the Bellagio for $2. We had a really fun time together and it was nice to see our roomies. After just a few weeks on the road it already felt like we hadn't seen them in a long time.

After a few days in Vegas, we started making our way here…Sequoia National Park via Death Valley. Like I mentioned before…it was hot. Real hot. I pretty much hated that place, but Jeremy seemed to be able to appreciate the beauty of it. For me, it is an amazing landscape, but I don't find it particularly awe inspiring. This is me…roasting my tail off.

All I could think about this pile of dirt was….mmmm….ice cream with chocolate on top.

The Giant Forest on the other hand makes you feel quite insignificant in the grand scheme. What an amazing place this is! We did a little bit of hiking here and quite a lot of reading. Our second day in the park we hiked to Moro Rock. You could see forever from up there! Amazing!

We even go to see two bears! Don't worry…I have a bear whistle handy to scare them off!

I love it here, but I will be ready to move on to Yosemite tomorrow. I have high hopes for that place. When my dad was young he and a friend spent a lot of time traveling the west (in their own little hippy vanJ) and he says that Yosemite was probably his favorite place to visit. If it's as amazing as every other stop we've made, I won't be let down!


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Marching on to Zion, Beautiful, Beautiful Zion!

Following the night of nearly freezing to death (I'm exagerating, but it was super cold!) we got up and headed to Bryce Canyon National Park. This canyon was very unique. The formations are called hoodoos and they were all over the place. A hoodoo is what is left standing after an arch erodes enough to only leave a pillar standing. These hoodoos were amazing to look at.

We took a short loop through the Queens Garden and the Navajo Trail, around 3 or 4 miles total. The walk was fantastic. We returned to the lodge at the trail head and made some sandwiches and sat on the deck for lunch. It was a really nice day in the sunshine. After lunch, we jumped back in the van and headed towards Zion National Park.

Zion was only 80 miles or so from Bryce Canyon. The drive was gorgeous, as usual for out here. Deep red rocks stand right next to brilliant white. And the size is indescribable. They are thought to be the largest sandstone cliffs in the world, one of them is 3800 feet tall! We drove down the switchbacks to the bottom of the canyon, driving slow and barely watching the road. With it But we were not ready for seeing Zion. I had never heard of Zion before we planned our trip. I'm not sure how this could be after pulling into the park. The sandstone cliffs are amazing. Being the weekend, we were too late to get a campsite for the weekend in the park. Disappointed, we headed out of the south entrance to find the nearest campsite. Luckily, it was within a mile. So we picked our spot and set up camp.

We quickly headed back into the park to do some hiking. We took the shuttle bus to one of the stops and headed up the emerald pools trail. This short hike had some spectacular views. The trail takes you behind two waterfalls that pour into the pools below. It was fabulous. We headed back to camp for a late dinner of grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and went to bed.

The next morning (Friday) we slept in. It was much needed after the night I laid awake shivering at Bryce Canyon. We got up, and headed back to the shuttle bus to a different trail. This trail was called Hidden Canyon trail. It was a steep climb up to a slot canyon. We walked at least a half mile into the canyon until we were stopped by a huge pile of boulders. The hike was amazing. The sandstone erodes into sand, of course. But the sand on the sandstone makes the rocks very slick. There were some cliff edges that had chains attached which we were thankful for. The canyon itself was great to see. The walls were very high and steep, and at places only 10 feet wide or so. some spots of the walls had ferns growing on them.
After taking in the scenerey for a while we headed back. While making our late lunch it started raining. Seems like a great time for a nap, right? So we slept an hour or two and then got up for the evening. The shuttles have space for bikes, so we took our bikes and went to the last stop at the top of the canyon. We jumped on the bikes and headed downhill. The whole trip was around 9 miles long. It was an hour or so of just sitting on the bike, letting gravity work its magic and watching the enormous cliffs pass us by. This was a totally different style of mountain biking, but a lot of fun.

Once we got back to camp, we made some more grilled cheese sandwiches, blogged a little bit and then headed off to bed.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Life is a highway!

In the past three or maybe four days, it seems as though we have been everywhere! You know that Johnny Cash song...I've been everywhere man? No? Well I'm sure that my dad and brother are on board here...that's what I feel like. If I was techy enough to add a link to the song I would do it, but it might take me all week.

Whew...I've got some ground to cover here. In our last blog Jeremy said that we were leaving for Mesa Verde and Moab. Well, we have been to both and are getting ready to soon as the AC is fixed:) You should know that Jeremy tolerates the heat very well and I feel like I will die from it. If the heat didn't make me so grumpy, I'm sure that Jeremy would not be so agreeable about trying to get the air conditioner fixed.

So anyway, we left Santa Fe on Tuesday morning and headed north toward Pagosa Springs Colorado. What a beautiful drive! I wasn't sure if I would enjoy just driving around all summer, but this particular route was well worth it (aside from being too hot in the van of course). Our atlas marks scenic routes as well as "best of the road" routes. The drive to Pagosa Springs was one of the best of the road routes. We loved it.

We arrived at Mesa Verde National Park around lunch time so we decided to make ourselves something to eat in the park then we headed to the visitor center and museum to learn more about the cliff dwellings in the park. They were originally inhabited by the Anasazi people and have been preserved and maintained by the park system. While we were in the museum, the strangest thing happened...we ran into my great uncle and his wife, Bill and Florence Wickey. What a small world. It is so strange to see people from home when you feel like you are a million miles away. After talking with Bill and Florence for a bit, we walked the relatively short trail to the cliff dwelling called Spruce Tree House. It's pretty amazing to imagine people living there so long ago.

After checking out Mesa Verde, Jeremy was anxious to move on to Moab, UT...the mountain bike capital of the world (at least according to Jeremy). So we drove most of the afternoon and arrived in Moab early in the evening, leaving us just enough time to find a campsite and make ourselves some beans and rice before heading to bed. Our next campsite was much nicer than our first Wal*Mart site. We camped on some BLM land which is public land. We thought it was free to camp there, but it did cost $12. It was a really nice little campground though.

Wednesday, we got up and got ready for my first mountain biking expedition. We asked around about beginner trails so that I could ride with Jeremy and found a spot north of town that had several trails to choose from. We had a fairly successful 8 mile ride, but it was really tiring for me and too easy for Jeremy. I really enjoyed most of it though.

In the afternoon we went and made an appointment to get the ac worked on, then headed out to Arches National Park just outside of Moab. It was a great little drive through the park, and we chose to take a short hike to one of the more noteable rock formations in the park, Delicate Arch. It was just a three mile round trip hike but it was mainly up hill the whole way there and down hill the whole way back. I'll let you in on a little secret...I suck at climbing up mountains. Even though I didn't like the climb up, I was not dissapointed when I got there. The wind was wipping so hard that I had to hold on to my hat and stay close to the rock wall so that I would not lose my balance. The formation of the rocks from years upon years of erosion from wind and water was just amazing. We also met this guy from the UK up there that was taking a 12 month trek around the world by himself...pretty crazy.

After going to Arches, we decided to find a real campground so that we could use their showers and laundry facility so we got a space for the night at the Slickrock RV Park in Moab. It was not the nicest campground I have ever been to, but I'm guessing that it is better than the Lazy Lizard Hostel in town.
The next morning we got up a little bit earlier and headed back out to the same mountain biking trails that we were on the day before. Having already completed the "Bar M" trail once successfully, we decided to try the "Rockin A" trail. rocked me. Most of this particular trail was on what is known as "slick rock" which is actually pretty difficult to ride on. I did okay for a bit, then I took a steep down hill that had a flat rock at the bottom and rode right over my handle bars. I am proud to say that I didn't even cry! It hurt a bit and made my legs really wobbly so I ended up letting Jeremy finish that portion of the trail on his own and I walked back to the main trail. Honestly, I was pretty proud of the riding that I did for being a first-timer.
After getting showers we headed off to get the van fixed. Wouldn't you know it? They said it was going to cost us around 600 to 1000 dollars to get the ac fixed. Arrggh! Man that made me grumpy! I might have thrown a little bit of a fit, but just when I thought things were at their worst, we drove on toward Bryce Canyon National Park and spent the night in a little campground nearby where Jeremy shivered all night from the cool mountain air!'s sort of funny really. I get mad about the hot and he got pretty mad about the cold. You know what they say...oposites attract. We'll get it balanced out one way or another!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Westward Ho!

After saying our goodbyes, Laura and I jumped in the van and headed towards Denver to I-25 South. 8 hours of driving was actually really fun. I would not have enjoyed it at all as a kid, but now just looking at the changing scenerey was amazing. Mountains, grasslands, mesas, and desert. It was so beautiful.

We pulled into Santa Fe around 5 in the evening. Just in time for all the museums and art galleries to close. We walked around the tourist part of town, did some window shopping and listened to some hippy buskers for a while, then headed to the campground. A Walmart parking lot to be exact in Espanola, NM. The scenery wasn't great, but it was free. So we figured out how everything in the van worked. Even the shower. Yes, I can cram into that little space and wash. If there was enough room to get a camera in there with me, it would make a funny picture for sure. Good thing there's not enough room.

Next stop, Mesa Verde, CO and then on to Moab UT!

The Morning After...

I'm sure that Nathanael and Audra's wedding night would have been a little less stressful had Nathanael known where his passport was. No passport, no honeymoon. But the morning after it was found locked in a friend's glove box, where it was put so that it wouldn't get lost. (for those interested, it was in a WRX hatchback. I gotta get me one of those!) We headed over to the Hofer's again for a wonderful brunch and to watch Nathanael and Audra open presents.

We welcomed Audra to the family and told them both goodbye. I hope they have a great time living in Bermuda and hopefully we'll get to see them both soon. Maybe we should start planning another vacation!

Off to Brush for a Shue family jam out in the barn. This time we got smart and brought classic rock song books complete with chords and lyrics. The left over hog was just as great the second time, and went particularly well with the side of thunderstorms. They just don't make clouds like that in Indiana. And I sure can't make music like that on my own. What a great family. It's always great to be together.


The Wedding Weekend

What a fantastic weekend we had. It was so much fun to see friends and family again. And Nathanael and Audra got hitched. Here are the highlights:

Friday: Rehearsal. Most of the family had gathered in Denver by Friday. Friday morning we met at the Hofer's to set up the tables and chairs for the rehearsal dinner. Once that was done we headed back to the hotel. Isaac and I (Jeremy) had a lot of work to be done on the best mEn speech. I think Nathanael was a little bit disappointed that we weren't able to spend time with him that afternoon. But I think the end result was worth it. We spent the afternoon in the hotel room recording our song. Just ask uncle Tim. It took a while (apparently he was trying to take a nap in the next room over). Finally after many hours we had the tracks laid and were satisfied with the result. We headed off to a relatively uneventful rehearsal, and then to the hog roast.

The day of the wedding finally arrived. Isaac and I had to be over to the bride's house to take pics of us getting ready. Once all the groomsmen arrived, we put on the garb and Nathanael handed out our custom made Cravattes. That's right, cravattes. After numerous attempts, we finally decided to watch some youtube videos on how to tie a cravatte. Turns out it is exactly like a necktie, only with a few simple tricks. Once they were on, we all looked way classier than we thought we might.

Following the pictures, the ceremony started. The highlight of the ceremony was definitely Phil's meditation. He was spot on and I hope Nathanael and Audra heard every word. After meeting Nathanael and Audra Shue for the first time, we headed off to the best wedding reception I have ever been to. Two events stand out. The best men speech was a lot of fun to give, and I think the happy couple liked it. If you would like to check it out, go to my (Jeremy's) facebook page to see the video links. The second best part of the reception had to be the dance floor. Yeah, its true., big Bradley was shaking his groove thang.

Again, this was the most fun I have ever had at a wedding. Hands down. I also particularly enjoyed catching up with Nelson and Linda's family. It had been way too long since I had spent any kind of time with them. Maybe we'll make it down to the lake with them later this summer.


Thursday, June 3, 2010


I woke up this morning with a whole new perspective on life. The cool Colorado air was blowing in the window, the birds were chirping, and did you catch that...I WOKE up...that means I was sleeping. Those of you that have been in close proximity to me over the last two weeks know that I have had a cough that has left me up watching old episodes of Family Matters and The Nanny from 2-3am. Last night, however, I actually slept more than I coughed. I wanted to sing the Hallelujah Chorus. It's true that I still don't feel great, but I am no longer fearing that I will never get better.

Yesterday we began the first leg of our trip. We left our house at 5am along with Isaac, Bethany, Kelsey, and Terry. We took our hippy van and Terry and Kay's sweet little Solstice...a very unlikely couple going down the road! We traveled about sixteen hours to Brush Colorado and stopped at aunt Brenda and uncle John's.

After one day in that van...I am in love! It is the ugliest, sweetest little camper/summer home ever. It's exactly what I was hoping for. We all took turns riding in the convertible and lounging on the bed in the back of the van....and of course...rocking out to Justin Bieber hits the whole way.

Our next stop...Denver. We will leave after lunch today to drive an hour into Denver to begin the wedding festivities. Nathanael and Audra (Jeremy's brother and our new sister-in-law) will be married this Saturday! We're looking forward to all the fun. I am a little nervous about the best mEn speech that is being rehearsed in the basement as I type. Should be interesting! I'll try to get it on video to share:)

While we are in Denver, our class:B RV will cool her heels here in Brush...awaiting further adventure!