Catching up…

April and Jim at the Combat Camera Reunion Banquet. - Photo by Ken Hackman
April and Jim at the Combat Camera Reunion Banquet. – Photo by Ken Hackman

We’re not doing a very good job of keeping our roadtrip blog updated and I for one will attempt to do a better job this year.

Our major trip last year was a 30 day cross country trip to my Combat Camera reunion in Ontario, California in September. This is the fourth year in a row we’ve made the reunion into a road trip and as usual we had a great time. The trip was long and when we got back home we both were tired and glad to be back. I think we went beyond our budget, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

Jim, Kimmy, Emily, Brad, Brad, April and Lexie at Canyonlands National Park. - Photo by Jim Pearson
Jim, Kimmy, Emily, Brad, Brad, April and Lexie at Canyonlands National Park. – Photo by Jim Pearson

I think the major highlights of our trip to me were spending time with my nephew Brad and his family. We rented a condo at Moab, Utah. We’ve both been here before and wanted to make another stop as there’s so much to see. It was great to see Brad, Kimmy, Lexie and Emily as it had been way too long. Brad is stationed in the Air Force in Colorado and we joined up with them after visiting a couple days there.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah. - Photo by Jim Pearson
Canyonlands National Park, Utah. – Photo by Jim Pearson

One of my favorite new places there was Canyonlands National Park. What a impressive place to visit! We went separate from the kids as they didn’t want to get up and out quite as early as we did. We did meet up for a picture there and it’s one of my favorites from the trip.

Dinner in the French Quarter. - Photo by our Waiter!
Dinner in the French Quarter. – Photo by our Waiter!

We stopped a lot of other sights along the way of course ranging from seeing the Space Shuttle in LA, the stars at night in Joshua Tree National Park, The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas and the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana, just to name a few of the major highlights. When traveling we try to keep our drives to about 350-450 miles a day to give us plenty of time to take pictures and see the sights along the way.

This year my Combat Camera reunion is in San Antonio, Texas in October and I’m looking forward to spending a little bit more than two days, as we did this year, and seeing more of the sites. Plus my new knee will make life much easier for getting around. It was a bit of a pain this year.

However, before that we’ll be heading off in June for my nephew Kenneth’s high school graduation. Looking forward to getting back on the road, other than short local trips around Kentucky. 

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Quick Picks

Apologies for not posting sooner. We have been on the road since September 1st. The first couple of days were long and nothing much happened. Then we spent two days at Colorado Springs with my grandson, Brad, and his family.   While there we visited a Pueblo and the Air Force Chapel.  We left there with them on Friday for Moab, Utah.

Here’s a quick pick of photos up to that point.  I promise to catch up over the next few days.  We are currently in Reno, Nevada.  We leave in the morning for the Donner Pass, following the railroad.


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Tripping with Toddlers

Everyone has their own idea of how to get ready for a trip.  My usual packing method is to count the days I’ll be gone and take an outfit for each day, then add a couple extra in case of emergencies and a couple in case the weather changes (long pants in summer, shorts in spring or fall).  Oh, and one dress up ensemble, pajamas, maybe a swimsuit and my favorite bathrobe.  Then I need a bag for toiletries, make up, a curling iron, vitamins, and emergency supplies like aspirin, antacid, bandages, antiseptic, antibiotic cream….a raincoat, umbrella, extra shoes.  Followed by the laptop, a bag for books, my tablet & kindle, writing paper, pens, chargers for my tablet, kindle, and cell phone, a power strip to plug them all into because hotels seldom have enough outlets.  

My brother, Jim, (a veteran traveler of the bachelor persuasion) had been in the habit of, not so subtly, hinting that I pack too much stuff.  He has a new perspective lately though.  Many of our road trips the past couple of years have included small children. 

Traveling with toddlers takes packing to a whole new level.  Last weekend we took three of my great grandchildren to Ohio with us for a family reunion.  That includes two boys aged 2 and 2 1/2 and an almost one year old girl.  

So, two sizes of diapers….count on about half a dozen per child per day.   Three or four outfits each per day plus pajamas, bath soap, swim gear (floaties and swimsuits), sun block, hair brush, toys, story books, sippy cups, bottles, a port-a-crib, strollers. Snacks for the ride and an ice chest for fruit juice and milk.  Even without all the paraphernalia, the necessity for space to accommodate  three car seats means taking two cars.  

But seeing the world through the joyfully amazed eyes of little ones makes it all worth the trouble.

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Reasons for Traveling

I suppose there are as many reasons for traveling as there are places to go and people going there. We travel for work, for medical treatment, for relaxation, and to visit relatives. We travel across the state and across the country. In the past, Jim even traveled across the world. Perhaps someday our descendants will travel across the universe.

© 167/Alex Treadway/Ocean/Corbis
© 167/Alex Treadway/Ocean/Corbis

The fact is mankind has always traveled. It’s in our nature. We are a restless breed. Many of our ancestors traveled as a way of life. In today’s world traditional nomads are less prevalent.  Modern technology and the industrialization of the land has made it difficult for them to survive.  

However, there is a new breed of nomad.  They live in cities and work at normal jobs until they get bored or hear of opportunities in other locations.  Then they pack up and move.  They go searching for a better place with more opportunity, much like their ancestors who sailed across the ocean or drove a wagon across the prairie.   

According to the U.S. Census Bureau:   The average person will move 12 times during their life.  “At age 18, a person can expect to move another 9.1 times in their remaining lifetime, but by age 45, the expected number of moves is only 2.7.”

Most of these moves may only be from one side of town to another, but many of them are to other cities or states.  Most of us have relatives scattered across the map.  We have cousins in Australia, where our father’s brother moved after WWII, and sprinkled liberally across the country from his other brothers and sisters.  On our mother’s side we have cousins in Pennsylvania and North Dakota.  When I moved back to Kentucky to be closer to relatives (another reason for many moves) I left behind a daughter and two grandchildren in Charlotte, NC.  I have a grandson in the Air Force who is currently in Colorado Springs and another who is in the Missouri National Guard because he married his college sweetheart from St. Louis and moved there.  A third grandson is moving to Texas with his girlfriend and their daughter this week.  

© Corbis
© Corbis

The “Boomer” generation is redefining retirement.  Oh, there are still “snowbirds” who buy homes in Florida or Arizona and “go south for the winter” then return home in the spring.  But the travelers are becoming more common all the time.

As families become less centralized many retirees are becoming a new kind of nomad.  Some of them buy an RV and simply travel from place to place.  Others work at temporary jobs in return for accommodations  using their retirement checks for other things.   A minority just “couch surf” all over the world, like homeless college students. They all spend a few weeks or months in one location, then pull out and move on to the next as nomads have done since the beginning of time.

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Learning to Travel

Arizona (4)One of the most important criteria for an enjoyable vacation is making it stress free.  Sometimes that means eliminating points of interest.  Trying to pack too much activity into a given day means you don’t have the time or energy to enjoy any of it.

When we took our first major roadtrip in 2011, we scheduled 6 to 8 hours a day of driving.  In theory, that would have left us 4 to 6 hours of site seeing time in a 12 hour day.  We should still have had 4 hours for buying gas, eating meals, and so forth with ample time to sleep.

Unfortunately, it didn’t always work out that way.  Sometimes, the driving took longer than anticipated.  In others, the site seeing and picture taking became extended.  When you check out of the hotel and start on the road at 9 am and don’t reach your next destination until 9 at night, the day is just too long.

At several locations, we didn’t have time for any site seeing.  Pictures were snapped quickly, sometimes from a moving car.  Sometimes we spent hours driving along empty roads to reach an interesting spot when it was too dark for good photos.  Nevada Rest Stop (1)

As we have gained experience along the way, we have learned to make the drive times shorter and space our stops better.  Hopefully, this time, we will arrive before sunset.  Spend a couple of hours checking out local points of interest and then take time to go back and photograph them the next morning before moving on to the next location.

Toward that end, we’ve scheduled multiple days at major locations like the Yosemite area, San Francisco, and New Orleans.  We are also returning to some previous places like Phoenix where we weren’t able to spend any time looking around on the last trip.  In 2011, we passed Saguaro National Park, but we got there at dusk.  We could see the forest of cacti around us, but it was too dark to explore and the photos we tried to take didn’t even begin to show the mystery of the scene.

The park is between Phoenix and Tucson.  It’s about 2 hours from Phoenix where we’ll be spending the night.  So, we’ll spend the morning exploring Phoenix, then start for the park after lunch.  We should be there with plenty of daylight left.  It’s another 5 hours to our El Paso hotel, so we’ll have a long day.  But the pictures will be worth it.


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