Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Sampling the American West and Midwest

Our summer vacation this year began in San Francisco.

Where we paid Alcatraz a visit and rode bikes over a barely visible Golden Gate Bridge.

But, of course, the best part was seeing Alis and her daughter Lois, who may or may not have been walking the last time we saw her 17 years ago, in Chinatown and then again in the Mission along with Rich and Dawn, also last seen 17 years ago.

After a few days in San Francisco, we traveled to Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks.

And then through Namibia? No, the Mesquite Sand Dunes and Zabriskie Point in Death Valley, where it was 116 degrees Fahrenheit or 47 Celsius.

After enduring the heat, we arrived in Paris, Nevada.

Our travels then took us to Utah, to Zion and Bryce Canyons.

At Bryce, we took a walk through Wall Street.

Our next stop was Moab where we went rafting on the Colorado River through Castle Valley and mountain biking along the Klondike Bluffs.

We also visited Arches National Park to see Delicate Arch, which is depicted on Utah's license plates as well as on just about anything else regarding Utah, and Island in the Sky and Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park.

But my favorite was Dead Horse Point State Park at sunset.

We saw so many impressive canyons, but we saved the best for last – the Grand Canyon. First, though, we took a detour through Monument Valley, and yes, it feels like being in a Western.

I know the word 'awesome' is overused, but the Grand Canyon truly is awesome, not to mention scary. As long as there are guardrails, I usually don't experience vertigo, but at the Grand Canyon, the guardrails did not help.

At the Grand Canyon, we did a bit of hiking just below the rim on the Cliff Spring Trail.

And took photos of the night sky.

Flagstaff was next on our itinerary and there we were, figuratively and literally, blown away by the size of Meteor Crater. I say literally because it is amazing how strong the winds are as they come sweeping out of the crater's bowl.

The next day was Alex's 16th birthday and we celebrated by exploring the cliff dwellings in Walnut Canyon.

And sliding down a natural water slide in Slide Rock State Park.

Our last stop in the American West was Tucson where I spent 10 years of my life, from 8 years old until I left for college. That's me next to the Salpointe High Lancer.

In Tucson, we spent some time at the Pima Air & Space Museum, Sabino Canyon and Saguaro National Park.

We also took a day trip to Tombstone.

Last, but never least, our summer holiday ended in Chicago. This photo of the Chicago skyline was taken from the Adler Planetarium on the day of the eclipse. Luckily, we saw the eclipse through breaks in the clouds.

Since Jenny and Kevin came all the way from the UK to the USA for the eclipse, we met them and Vera and Tom at Gino's East.

Of course, we also did the touristy things, like sightseeing in the Loop and in Chinatown with our niece Olenka, seeing Chicago from the Sears (Willis) Tower Skydeck at night, and taking in a Cubs game.

We spent a weekend at Anna and Orest's in Michigan where the boys learned the fine art of tubing.

And, as always, we saw our families and friends – the Kozans, Larissa and my cousins, my friend Darka and my friend Kali.