Off the Grid

Hey! Were you wondering what happened to me? Well, I left the grid for a bit (not completely). I mostly became a voyeur on Facebook, WordPress, Blogspot, and Twitter. By that, I mean that I didn’t comment/participate much, but stayed current on what was happening with my peeps.

I have kind of been on vacation since mid-June.  Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

My oldest daughter will be a senior this year and we wanted to take a “big” vacation this summer. We won’t be able to afford any big vacations next summer because of looming college expenses (we found out that book rental for one semester can be $700!!).

So, on June 22nd we loaded the family truckster with our luggage and began our 11-day trek across the West.

On the first day of trip we stopped in middle of Minnesota and encountered a 60-foot Jolly Green Giant in this small town, Blue Earth. By the way, the Engledows are not highbrow travelers. Bring on the cheese – the cheesier the better.  So, you can imagine our excitement when this discovery was made! 

On the second day of trip we reached our first destination – Hill City, South Dakota. We stayed there for 3 nights and visited the usual sites in that area: the Corn Palace, Buffalo Gap National Grasslands, Badlands National Park, Mt. Rushmore, Chief Crazy Horse Monument, Custer State Park and Bear Country USA.

Here is a montage the South Dakota part of our trip (we have 1000 pictures between 4 cameras so these are just a sample):

South Dakota was beautiful. I didn’t expect it to be as gorgeous and green as it was. What was I expecting? A lot of brown, dusty looking panoramas. This was just not so!

Day 5 was the transition day from South Dakota to Colorado. This required us to drive through Wyoming and was the eeriest part of our trip. Why?  There were rarely any other cars and we had no cell signal – we could have disappeared without a trace! But, we didn’t. Wyoming had wonderful, interesting panoramic views that you just don’t encounter in the Midwest and I would have enjoyed the drive more if we had had cell coverage.

Our second major destination was Estes Park, Colorado. OMG! I love this place. I could move there. Seriously.

We stayed 4 nights and had a wonderful time. We saw Elk wandering the downtown sidewalks, went rafting down the Colorado River, toured the Stanley Hotel (inspiration for The Shining), drove over the Rocky Mountains (we reached 12,000 ft above sea level!), went hiking in the Rockies, saw wildlife galore (wolves, elk, moose, marmots, bald eagles, pronghorns, mule deer), etc.

Pictures from the Colorado Part of our trip:

We rounded out our trip with a hellish drive through the entire state of Kansas (talk about desolate!) and then spent our last two days in St. Louis, Missouri. We toured the Arch and the St. Louis Zoo.  Their zoo is fantastic and it’s free!

What a great trip!! It was definitely my favorite of all of our family vacations. We had been saving money for this trip for two years (we had a trip jar) and it was worth every penny.

Our kids are the best travelers and made the whole experience absolutely wonderful! I hope this trip will remain in their memories as something really cool from their childhoods.

What about the rest of the summer? Well, we got back from our trip on Saturday, July 2nd and left again for another family vacation on July 9th (No, that’s not stressful at all. Yeah, right!).

We were not on the go during this vacation so it was very relaxing. I read three books and started a fourth (in one week) – I did pay some attention to my family, but not much! 🙂 That’s okay – they were busy swiming in the lake, going tubing, fishing, etc.

 Michigan Sunset

Now I’m back in the real world (hiss, boo) and ready to get back to it!

It would be a lot easier if I wasn’t still daydreaming about being back in Colorado. These intrusive thoughts are seriously hampering my ability to get back into my real life.  Hopefully, these daydreams will eventually go away and quit taunting me!

My Love-Hate Relationship with Procrastination (maybe just hate)

Procrastination. I hate this word.  Really. I know everyone does it. My kids are really good at it. I hate it when I do it.  

 I know my excuse – I’m a perfectionist (which is a serious illness). What is your excuse?

What are the items on the Procrastination List? Well, a lot of things. But, I did finally tackle the big one on my list – the family vacation we are taking this summer.  The hubby has always had this dream to take the fam damnly on a trek out West.  You know, Griswold-style.  However, Wally World is not our destination – the destination is our country’s National Parks!

Why did I procrastinate on this particular project? It’s an 11-day “get-a-way” that includes multiple stops, multiple routes and maps, sight-seeing decisions, etc. It was so daunting and overwhelming to me. And, I was not excited about changing hotels every other night – packing and unpacking, etc.  What finally got me started on this project was my husband telling me that he was freaking out about my lack of planning and interest in this huge opportunity for family fun.

Whoa, I didn’t want to be the fun-sucker on vacation (I do that enough on a day-to-day basis). Finally, I confessed that I was afraid of his expectations for this family trek – his parents used to go on these 3 week long driving pilgrimages staying in a new location every other night with extensive itineraries, etc. He assured me that he was not thinking along that vein. Relief!

It took an entire day, but we did it!  We have a budget, all of our accommodations booked, and some awesome activities planned.  Now that it’s done, I’m excited! Why did I fear this task so??

Here is our itinerary:

Day 1:  Hellish 12-hour day of driving to get to BFE, MN

Days 2-4:  Another long day of driving, but we reach our destination:  Rapid City, SD.  We will be staying here for 3 nights and visiting Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands National Park, Black Hills National Forest and possibly checking out the Corn Palace.  I’m especially stoked about seeing Mt. Rushmore!!!

Day 5:  Driving from Rapid City, SD to our next stop, Estes Park, CO.

Days 6-8:  Hanging out in Estes Park; visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. The place we are staying is on a river where my husband can try out his new fly fishing gear and looks fantastically relaxing.

Day 9:  Hellish 12-hour day of driving to Kansas City, MO.  Just a stop, not a destination.

Day 10:  Short 5 hour drive to St. Louis, MO.  We are taking our kids to the Gateway Arch – the “Gateway to the West”!

Day 11:  We are homeward bound.

It will be EPIC! However, we are not making any stops to pick up Aunt Edna so we won’t have to worry about toting a dead aunt on top of the mini van 🙂

Okay, here are the remaining items on my Procrastination List:

1.  My bio for my boss’s new web site.  What do I put down?  It’s not really that interesting.  Why am I in health insurance?  I’m not sure – it just happened.  I definitely did not plan this as a career – I was a math major!  I can’t put this one off much longer – it was due today.

2.  Various Doc visits – annual visit, colonoscopy (dad, I swear – I’ll call tomorrow), mammogram, daughter’s eye exam, my eye exam.  This is another day of just calling people – I don’t have time for that! Buuutt, these are important visits and I just need to do it.

3.  Call the Carpet Cleaners

4.  Start my running program again.  What the hell is wrong with me ?  I did so well (almost 30 minutes straight!) and then the flu.  Now, I’m starting over again, but not quite yet.  Just Do It!

Okay, first thing tomorrow morning, I’m going to cross items #1-4 off of the Procrastination List!  Or maybe next week…..