Monthly Archives: August 2016

Mesa Verde

With Benjy in the driver seat, me sitting shotgun, Jen in the jump seat directly behind me and the kids stuffed somewhere in the way back, we drove to our next stop, Mesa Verde.  Although the destinations on our itinerary were definitely noteworthy, I’d have to say the journey in our traveling van is now what sticks out most in my mind.  We named the van “Sheldon” or “Shelly” because it wasn’t necessarily the hippest means of transportation and the man at the helm, despite his occupation of a pilot, wasn’t necessarily Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Here’s all of us in front of Shelly.


We had 80’s tunes blasting on the radio and although we were singing badly out of tune we surprisingly still knew all of the lyrics to each song. There was G&R, Prince, Madonna, Journey, Twisted Sister and AC/DC, to name a few.  It was our version of carpool karaoke, completely devoid of any celebrity status, but equally as hilarious (at least in our own minds).

There was a lot of groaning, eye-rolling and feigning of asphyxiation going on with the younger occupants.  The adults, however, remained steadfast in holding the con.  We pressed on and refused to  succumb to the likes of Taylor Swift and One Direction.  Muwahahahahahhahaha!

We headed south towards Cortez, Colorado to our next stop, Mesa Verde National Park.


What a stark contrast the desert mesas were to the lush black canyons we had seen just the day before.


We managed to sneak in some educational material by learning about the Pueblo Indians who lived in the canyons and built cliff dwellings during the 13th century.

DSC_0175 DSC_0179

The Pueblo Indians built their homes in the cliffs, not for safety as initially thought, but because interestingly, they had better access to water beneath the mesas then on top of them.  The dwellings were also constructed in such a way that they provided exceptional shelter from the elements.  The thick stone construction enabled them to maintain the temperature inside the walls around 50 degrees Fahrenheit year-round which protected them from the frigid cold during the winters and the intense desert heat during the summers.

We had to climb up this 35 foot ladder to access one of the dwellings; it was not for the faint of heart!


The architecture  was quite impressive and has obviously lasted for centuries.



DSC_0170 DSC_0178

We also could not resist a detour to the Four Corners Monument, where Colorado, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico meet.  We took the obligatory being in 4 different states at one time pictures:

DSC_0163 DSC_0164 DSC_0165

And the one with each of us standing together in 4 different states:


Pretty cool, huh?

Making Memories

After we left Unkey, we met up with our dear friends, the Sheffields.  I have been friends with Jen since the first few days of our freshman year at the University of Florida.


When she started school, Jen knew absolutely no one at the University of Florida.  I knew a few people from my high school.  Even so, both of us were like deer stuck in headlights being away from home and on our own for the first time in our lives.

Jen and I met during sorority rush.  She had gotten to know another girl, Kristi, who happened to be in the same rush group as me.  Kristi lived on the same floor as Jen and she introduced us one night as we all were walking back from a rush party.  On pledge day, Jen and I showed up at the same sorority.  Since she didn’t know anyone else, we naturally gravitated to one another.  We became buddies from then on.

As we embarked on our first professional jobs following graduation, we were roommates.  After we both got married, we bought homes that were right around the corner from each other.  We went to the same church; our kids have grown up together and our husbands are close friends as well.  Looking back on it all, it seems the Lord brought Jen and me together that hot August night in Gainesville, Florida to be lifelong friends.


One of the toughest things I had to do when we moved to Hong Kong was leave my bestie behind.  A friendship like ours, however, transcends space and time and we still remain close despite the distance.  So we decided months ago to meet up and travel together to see some of the national parks in Colorado.  We have vacationed together before, but never for this long and never road-tripping in a van with us and our families crammed inside.  Regardless of how it all turned out, we knew the trip would be, if nothing else, memorable.

From Breckenridge, we headed southwest to our first stop, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.


We took a boat tour on the Gunnison River.



We did some hiking in and around the canyon.

DSC_0123 DSC_0129

The weather wasn’t too cooperative, but the views were spectacular nonetheless.

DSC_0114 DSC_0141 DSC_0150The best part of all was the time spent with friends.




Heading West

The second part of our summer was spent in the western region of the U.S.  We stopped in Frisco, Colorado (near Breckenridge) to visit Benjy’s brother (“Unkey”) and his lovely wife Donna.

Andy took us to the Continental Divide first thing upon our arrival.

DSC_0056Unkey and Donna are avid hikers, so we immediately set off on our first hike.  All of us, however, failed to take into account the fact that Benjy, the kids and I had just gone from sea level to an altitude of over 9,000 feet.  We started off on our hike and I nearly blacked out after only three steps.  I consider myself to be in decent shape, but that altitude knocked me on my bum!   I was out of breath and wheezing like a chain-smoker with a 3-pack-a-day habit.  Our hike was more like a saunter up the mountain and was at a snail’s pace.  The upside was that we had more time to enjoy the spectacular views.




The temperature was so much cooler and drier–a welcome relief from the heat and humidity of Florida and Hong Kong.


In addition to hiking we took a 16-mile bike ride.   Thankfully, our ride was all downhill.


For 2 nights we rented a “little cabin in the woods.”


Much to Unkey’s disappointment, it was more like “glamping” than camping.  The place had a refrigerator, gas stove, oven and sauna.

DSC_0076 DSC_0077 DSC_0078

We finally adjusted to the altitude and started enjoying the hikes more.


In some areas, there was still a lot of snow on the ground.


But the scenery was majestic.



…and the company, marvelous.


DSC_0092 DSC_0088


Playing Catch-up

I’m way behind on my blog posts.  We just got back from our summer trip to the U.S. after spending over 2 months back west.  It’s always great to visit family and spend time with our American friends, but I have to admit that I am relieved to be home in Hong Kong in my own bed and back into a regular routine.

We did some serious road-tripping while we were there.  So, in order to stay relevant I’m going to fast forward to share our summer adventures and then I’ll go back later to blog about our trips last spring.  I never really intended this to be a travel blog when I started out, but I suppose it has evolved into mostly that.  Traveling is definitely one of the major blessings we enjoy from homeschooling since we aren’t really tied down by conventional school schedules.

We started our summer visiting family and friends in Florida.  We visited my dad (Lolo and his wife, Lola Sonia) in Pensacola…



and Benjy’s mom and her husband, Rob…



We got to hang out with my Tita Luz and my cousin Maya along with her beautiful twin girls…


DSC_0012 DSC_0015

We played on the beach…

DSC_0025 DSC_0020 DSC_0054 DSC_0047

…and hung out with my mom, who managed to talk one of her friends into driving her all the way from Jacksonville to Pensacola.


Aaron did some fishing with Lolo (of course)….


IMG_1262 IMG_1268

They did quite well.

IMG_1274 IMG_1261

The kids also spent a week at camp Cedar Cliff in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina.


They had a blast!


Aaron got to hang out for a week with 4 of his best buds from Jacksonville.


And Webley made some new gal pals.


It was an awesome way to start the summer.