From Jamie's Philippines Pics

We have also had the opportunity to travel to some amazing places in China, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Bali. We have archived all of our travels and living experiences abroad; and if you wish, you can read about our adventures by finding the archives on the right of this page and by checking our Photo Album.

We appreciate all of our family and friends who have stayed in touch and emailed us with encouraging words throughout the year. We hope you will continue to keep us in your thoughts as we continue our adventure of living abroad teaching at an international school. For those who have stumbled upon our site, check out the "About Eric and Jamie" section on the right for more information.

Thanks for checking us out!

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness."
- Mark Twain

"Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends."
- Maya Angelou






Skype: "ericandjamie"



Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Brown Family Vacation - Day 20 and Reflections

From Yellowstone National Park

Ft. Smith, AK to Calhoun, TN

We left early in the morning after a wonderful breakfast at the hotel.  Guesthouse Inn is quite nice despite it being probably 2nd least expensive hotel of the trip.

We changed drivers several times, at lunch at a Zaxby's, dropped by and picked up Papa John's for dinner, and made it back to Calhoun right at 12 hours.  Long day of driving but it really wasn't that bad.

We cleaned out the van and then reflected on the trip. There were 19 major locations we saw during the trip.  In order of appearance, they are...

St. Louis Arch
Corn/Wheat Fields of Midwest
1880's Western Town
Badlands National Park
Mt. Rushmore
Black Hills National Forest
Devil's Tower
Bighorn National Forest
Yellowstone National Park
Grand Tetons National Park
Crater Lake National Park
Oregon Coastal Road
Redwood National Park
Napa Valley
San Francisco
Sequoia National Park
Las Vegas
Grand Canyon National Park
Petrified Forest National Park/Painted Desert

I asked my family to rank their top 5 locations.  The following lists the top 5.  The top 3 really aren't that much of a surprise, but the last 2 might be considering that we didn't know we were going through them.  The remaining of them were not even close.  A couple of surprises in here I thought, but overall a solid list for anyone wishing to travel.  Keep in mind of the diversity of ages and experiences where the votes came from...

Grand Canyon National Park - No surprise here as 3 people listed it as their number 1 choice; however, 3 people didn't rank it all.  Nonetheless, the Grand Canyon is probably a highlight of any trip out west.

Yellowstone National Park - 6 of 7 people ranked the park in their top 5, which some could make it a case at being #1 on this list.  We'll stick with it at #2 in accordance with total points though.  Again, no surprise considering all that we saw there, including a bear.

Redwood National Park - 5 of 7 people ranked this in their top 5, and one of the people who didn't had already been there before.  One person ranked it #1. The redwoods are majestic, and the highlight was the short 1.5 mile walk through these towering trees.

Crater Lake National Park - 5 out of 7 people ranked this one.  We made a last minute decision to go here and diverted from our plan.  Lucky that we did because it outranked some other popular spots and one person ranked it #1.

Big Horn National Park - The largest surprise on the list, but the drive through here it quite impressive.  Only 3 people ranked this but one ranked it first and two ranked it 2nd, so the points added up quickly.  Surprising still because we re-routed to drive through here not knowing how rewarding it was going to be.  The winding road through the mountains were worth the extra time which also got us to Cody, WY and closer to Yellowstone.

There it is.  The top 5 locations as voted on by the Brown family.  Feel free to agree or disagree if you have been to these locations.  Anyone wanting advise if you are traveling through these areas, feel free to email me. Also, don't forget to see all of the locations and photos on our PICASA PHOTO ALBUM.

Dad just said that it wasn't fair to rank these and that the best thing about the whole trip was us all being together for it.  I couldn't have said it better....

Brown Family Vacation - Day 18 and 19

From Petrified ForestPainted Desert

Day 18

Holbrook, AZ to Amarillo, TX

A nice little breakfast started out our day and we made our way first to this large store outside of Petrified Forest National Park called Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co.  Great store that gave you a ½ pound of free petrified wood.  I bought a couple of samples to show my students but the store had a wonderful variety of wood and gemstones to see. 

We mainly just drove through the Petrified Forest and also made our way through the Painted Desert which you really have to in order to get back onto the Interstate.  It was all interesting enough with some crazy landscapes.  I would have like to get out and walk around a little, but it was just a drive through sort of thing.

From here on out, it will be driving time.  We probably won’t stop to see too much.  We have to be back by the 27th so we can clean up the van and get it back by the 28th.

We ate lunch in Sky City, NM at a McDonald’s.  Sky City has a city on top of a mesa that is the oldest continuously occupied city in North America, or so they say.  We didn’t stop to see it though and moved on to Amarillo, TX for the night where we stayed at a Day’s Inn.  We ate dinner at Outback Steakhouse to celebrate Samantha’s 15th birthday.

Day 19

Amarillo, TX to Ft. Smith, AK

Driving day again today.  We left Amarillo and drove through the panhandle of Texas and into Oklahoma. We were around Oklahoma City for lunch and drove past the bomb site memorial.  It was threatening rain and parking and driving downtown was a disaster, so we didn’t stop and fully explore. 

We ate lunch out of the box and moved down the road finally stopping at Ft. Smith, Arkansas.  We stayed a wonderful hotel called the Guesthouse Inn and ate a mediocre dinner at TGIFridays.  

Brown Family Vacation - Day 17

From Grand Canyon

Flagstaff, AZ to Holbrook, AZ

Grand Canyon Day!  Staying at Flagstaff is a good location because it is only about 80 minutes to the South Rim of the Canyon.  We had breakfast in the room and headed north toward the canyon.  The Grand Canyon has a ton of things to do, but we knew going in that the only part of this trip was to view it from the rim, enjoy it magnificence of it, and move on.  I will no doubt be back to the Grand Canyon one day to do helicopter, mule to the bottom, rafting, or other things when you have more time.

There is literally no way for someone to describe the feeling you get when you first see the Grand Canyon.  I won’t bother to do it here because I am neither poetic nor capable of doing so.  I will say that it is a site that everyone must see in their lifetime whether it is to just stop and see it from the rim or fully explore. 

They are doing some wonderful work there, so the new visitor’s center isn’t quite finished, but people do not go to see the visitor’s center. 

Lunch today was at a Wendy’s outside the park and we drove on down to Holbrook, AZ, a place chosen because it was just outside the Petrified Forest.  We drove by Meteor Crater but was unable to see it because it was closed for the day.  It would have been spectacular because it is the best preserved crate in the world almost a mile across and over 3 miles in circumference.  Maybe one day.

We stayed at a nice little Travelodge in Holbrook, ate out of our lunch box, and Mom, Jamie and I took a long walk that night while seeing a pretty sunset. 

Tomorrow, we begin our drive home.  We have broken it up into 7 hour driving days, but we’ll see how that goes.  

Brown Family Vacation - Day 16

Las Vegas, NV to Flagstaff, AZ

Shorter day today.  We left Vegas later in the morning.  Amy and Samantha had heard about a replica Simpson’s house outside of Vegas in Henderson.  After a great, late breakfast at Dunkin Donuts, we went found the Simpson’s house only to be disappointed to find out that it had been sold, repainted, and turned into just another regular house in that neighborhood.  Too bad really because it would have been a great stop especially considering the Simpson’s fans in our bunch.

We then made our way to Hoover Dam, only to be disappointed again for 2 reasons:  1)  There way no way for mamaw to get to the visitor’s center via escalator or elevator due to her pacemaker.  2) It cost $8 per person just to get into the visitor’s center, but that does include the tour.  Dad’s legs were killing him from our walk in Vegas, so we decided to bypass the tour and visitor’s center and drive across the dam instead. Again, no pictures today because we didn't really get out plus I already have pictures of Hoover Dam.  

We drove on to Flagstaff where we stayed at this nice little Budget Inn for the night and ate at Cracker Barrel with dessert at Dairy Queen.  Jamie and Amy were gracious enough to go do our laundry.  

Brown Family Vacation - Day 15

Bakersfield, CA to Las Vegas

We left somewhat early and after a quick wrong turn made our way with a 5 hour drive to Las Vegas.  We stayed at the Imperial Palace, which I like because of its decent price and central location on the strip.  Nice places were available for the price but would have put us further down the Strip.  IP is also located across from Caesar’s Palace and on the monorail line. 

After lunch at Cheesecake Factory at Caesar’s Palace, we rested up for a little while and some hit the pool.  We then headed out to see some of the casinos and some that the Vegas strip has to offer.  It had been about 5 years since I had been there with Jamie, and they have actually built a couple of new casinos on the strip. 

We took the monorail down to MGM but the lions had already been put up for the night.  We saw M&M World and all of the street performers dressed up in characters.  We got a quick snack while walking around New York, New York, then made our way up the strip by walking to see the fountains of the Bellagio. 

Everyone was pretty tired from the walking, so most made their way back to the rooms.  Amy and I headed out to play some blackjack until late in the evening. 

Too little time in Vegas, but it was enough to see it at night and experience some of the larger casinos.  Always more to see in Vegas, but I know we’ll be back.  No pictures because I had already been there and had some pictures from before. Tomorrow, we’ll make our way to Flagstaff, AZ to prepare for the next day at the Grand Canyon.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Brown Family Vacation - Day 14

From Sequoia NP

Fresno, CA to Bakersfield, CA

We got a late start but headed out toward Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park today.  We had no idea how large the park was and what we were going to be able to see and decided our plan once we got there.

After talking to a ranger, we decided to forego the Kings Canyon part of the park.  This is unfortunate, but I'm sure we'll be back to see it some other time.

We first went to see General Grant, a massive tree that is near the visitor's center.  We then took the winding road down toward the main part of the Sequoia NP to see General Sherman, the world's largest tree by volume.  It isn't the tallest nor the oldest, but one statistic said that if you filled it up with water, you would have enough water to take a bath every day for 27 years.  We ate lunch near there at a very peaceful picnic site.

One the way out of the park, they were doing road construction on the curviest road I have even been on.  They only let cars through the area at the top of the hour, so cars were backed up for quite a ways and it took them a long time to get through the one lane construction.  It took us nearly an hour and a half to get down off of the mountain.

We finally arrived at Day's Inn in Bakersfield and found a Chik-Fil-A to eat at.  Sweet!

Tomorrow, we'll take the 5 hour drive to Las Vegas and see some of sin city, with or without the sinning.

Check out our pictures of the Sequoias!

Brown Family Vacation - Day 13

From San Francisco

Vallejo, CA to Fresno, CA

It wasn’t on the schedule, but we were able to swing by San Francisco today.  You could easily spend a week here, but we only had a few hours.  We decided to take a small quick driving tour to see the sites and ended up eating right next to the Golden Gate Bridge.  We drove the steep streets, saw Lombard Streets, Chinatown and some of the Victorian Houses.  Hard to take pictures because we didn’t actually stop, but I have a feeling Jamie and I will back to San Francisco very soon to fully explore.

Lunch was amazing as we ate at a park in San Fran but watching this giant fog cloud roll in and completely cover the GGB.  It was only at the very top of the bridge when we sat down to eat, but it slowly covered the entire bridge including when we crossed it to leave.

A somewhat quick and easy 3 hour drive took us to Fresno, CA where we booked a place at the Comfort Inn.  Dinner was Olive Garden that night and it was quite yummy.  Fresno puts us only an hour away from Kings Canyon and Sequoia NP, so we’ll be seeing it tomorrow.  Not many pictures today, but I’m sure I’ll have plenty of the sequoia tomorrow.

Brown Family Vacation - Day 12

From Napa Valley

Eureka, CA to Vallajo, CA

We left Eureka and headed south down US101 toward Napa Valley.  Along the way, we were able to see some more redwoods and even stopped in one of those places where you can drive through one of them.  These are privately owned places, and our van was too large to drive through, but we stopped and got some pictures of others driving through and us walking through it.

We arrived in Napa Valley and had some time to kill before our guided tour we had set up.  We ate lunch at a little picnic area outside of a petrified forest.  Not THE petrified forest, but this place claimed to have the largest petrified trees in the world.  Privately owned, but we didn’t tour. 

We drove around to and through some of the vineyards seeing the architecture and views of Napa Valley.  We arrived at our tour of Castella di Amorousa, an Italian castle built in 1972 but not opened until 2006. The tour was very informative and I think we picked a winner of vineyards to tour. The wine tasting at the end was excellent and mom and dad even had some shipped back home. Check out the pictures to see what we saw.
Our stay that night was just south of Napa Valley in Vallejo, CA at a little Regency Inn which put us pretty close to San Francisco for tomorrow’s adventure. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Brown Family Vacation - Day 11

From Redwood National Forest

Coos Bay, OR to Eureka, CA

We woke up this morning and headed out immediately south on US101 down the Oregon Coastal Road.  Again, we stopped a few times, but this morning it was raining and very misty and foggy, so visibility was not very good.  Once we arrived in California, it had cleared up, which was fortunate because our next stop was to see the Redwoods at Jebediah Smith Park.

We stopped by the visitor's center and received some information before heading off on this gravel road.  2 miles into the road, we stopped and took a 1.5 mile hike into the depths of the forest to see the trees.  I really can't describe the beauty of these tree and how large they are.  You can see some pictures in our PHOTO ALBUM, but I'm not sure it'll do them justice.

We left our hike, ate lunch at Crescent City Beach, and moved down the coast again.  We had a tip from the ranger that there was a gray whale upriver in Klamuth and that we could stop and see it.  We found the spot and was able to catch some great glimpses of a gray whale and her baby calf.  Very beautiful.  We were able even to see some friendly otters that swam next to the whales.  A bear and a whale in the wild in the same trip!

We stopped for the night at Eureka and stayed in the Town House Motel and ate at Long Coast Brewery, which turned out to be excellent food.   Tomorrow, we'll hit up wine country in Napa Valley.

Check out the Redwoods pictures and check back for more of this already amazing trip.

Brown Family Vacation - Day 10

From Oregon Coastal Road

Roseburg, OR to Coos Bay, OR

We drove up I5 until we reached US20 (which is the longest road in America stretching from Boston to Newport.  I was wanting to drive by the University of Oregon, but it was raining and it was a little off the road, so we opted out.  We were able to see Oregon State, which is in a neat little town.  

We arrived at Newport and finally saw the Pacific coast.  Newport is a fishing village and the downtown area reminded me of Gatlinburg as a fishing village. We ate lunch at Mo's which was some great seafood right on the water.  

We then headed down the Oregon Coastal Road US101 stopping every so often for some pictures.  It is a wonderful drive that I highly recommend.  Great for outdoorsy types who want to get out and hike and see some wildlife and foliage.  

We winded our way down the coast until we arrived at Coos Bay and stayed at a little place called the Southside Hotel just off 101.  

We ate Taco Bell because it was right across the street.  In Taco Bell, there was a strange drifter in there who tried to start something with me.  Jamie and my mom were with me, and I basically ignored him and walked on.  Once I saw him walk by the hotel and see where we were staying, I called the police.  Not sure what happened to the guy but he seemed a bit addled.  The hotel owner said he had problems with him before and he was in and out of prison.  Interesting...

Tomorrow, we'll make our way down the coast again and into California where our big stop for the day will be to see the Redwoods.  Check out pictures!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Brown Family Vacation - Day 9

From Crater Lake NP

Burns, OR to Roseburg, OR 

We left Burns, OR early to head out to Crater Lake National Park. It took us almost 5 hours to get there, but it was definitely worth the derivation from our route. Crater Lake is one of the most beautiful places I have seen. It rivals the Philippines Islands and even Yellowstone. Today was especially nice because even though it is July 15, there was still snow everywhere and it was a sunny day.  This caused the lake to be especially blue and clear and you had the green of the trees and the white of the snow.  Pictures turned out great!

We ate lunch along the rim at the visitor’s center and just enjoyed the views. Crater Lake was formed from a volcano that erupted 7700 years ago. The mountain basically collapsed onto itself leaving a 5 mile wide crater.  Eventually, rain and snow filled the crater to form a freshwater lake. Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the US and the 7th deepest in the world.  Stunning views which you only have to see to appreciate and understand.

From Crater Lake, we drove about 2.5 hours to Roseburg and stayed a great little Howard Johnson.  We arrived early, so everyone was able to rest then headed out for some BBQ at a local place called Charley's.  Make sure you check out the pictures of Crater Lake in our PICASA PHOTO ALBUM.

Tomorrow, we'll head north toward Newport, before heading south on the Oregon Coastal Road.  

Brown Family Vacation - Day 8

Idaho Falls, ID to Burn, Oregon

Driving day today.  We were all pretty tired after a hard 3 days of touring and traveling, so today was a day to take it a little easier.  We are a couple of days ahead of schedule, but we needed to keep moving a little west.  We are very unsure of how our California touring will take place, so we want to make sure we keep up the pace without exhausting everyone. We drove through the morning and had a great lunch at Cracker Barrel in Boise, ID. Our stop for the night was 4 hours west into Oregon at a town called Burns at a Days Inn.  I was able go to a local gym and even get some work done on my Chapter 5. Dinner was from our lunch box that has come in quite handy.  

We are changing our plan of driving to Newport, Oregon tomorrow and opting to go to Crater Lake National Park instead.  It probably will add about a half day to our schedule, but we think it is worth it.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Brown Family Vacation - Day 7

From Yellowstone National Park

West Yellowstone, MT to Idaho Falls, Idaho

We slept in a little bit before heading out into the west entrance of Yellowstone to see Old Faithful.  Jamie and I had been talking for 2 days about wanting to see a bear.  As we were driving to entrance to Old Faithful, we got our wish and dozens of cars had pulled over and stopped traffic.  We knew it had to be something cool, but we inched forward before seeing a cinnamon black bear across the river.  I quickly pulled the van over to the side with everyone else and we were able to get some great views and photos of the bear.  Mission accomplished!

Old Faithful had just gone off when we got there, so we had to wait the 92 minutes before seeing it again.  Still pretty amazing.  We loaded up and headed south toward Grand Tetons National Park.  We ate lunch while overlooking Lake Jackson and the Grand Tetons.  Jamie drove us the rest of the way through the park, Jackson, and into Idaho, where we stopped a little early for the night staying at West Motel in Idaho Falls, Id. We ordered some pizza from dominoes, did some laundry and tried to plan our next few days.

Excellent first week and especially a jam packed last few days.  The trip continues as we travel across Oregon, hit the Pacific Coast, and head south toward California and the Redwoods among other things.

If you have seen the PHOTO ALBUM for the trip, please feel free.  I have divided everything into different albums by the places we've been.

Brown Family Vacation - Day 6

From Yellowstone National Park

Cody, Wy to West Yellowstone, Montana (Yellowstone NP)

Another simply amazing day!  I woke up for a quick run early and saw 3 deer walking the streets of Cody and saw the sun come up over the mountains.  After planning the day, we got up and headed out for the hour drive to the eastern entrance of Yellowstone National Park.  Yellowstone is the 1st national park in the world and covers over 2.2 million acres. To see everything in 1 day is almost impossible, but we were going to try and do as much as possible.

Our first site was the massive Yellowstone Lake, which we just drove by but it gave us a sense of the beauty we'd see the rest of the day. After stopping at the visitor's center and planning with a ranger, we stopped at Mud Volcano.  The entire area of Yellowstone has constant geothermal activity, and this gave us our first glimpse at what it could do to the area.

We then headed toward the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, but before seeing the upper level and lower level at Artist's Point, we had to stop several times for bison crossings.  Worth the delay as we saw dozens of them.  The canyon was excellent with a variety of colors.

It started raining a little bit which almost put a damper on our picnic, but we stopped at Tower Falls for lunch and waited out the rain while driving to our next stop at Mammoth Hot Springs, a place that I personally wanted to see the most.  The water wasn't flowing as much here, but it was still pretty impressive walking the ramps.  There was a lower terrace you could walk and an upper terrace you could drive.

It was getting late, so we decided to see the Norris Geyser Basin before heading out for the day.  Again, we were able to see small geysers and pools of geothermal water of different colors along with thermophiles, little bacteria that live in the geysers.

We had to settle for a rather expensive but nice cabin room at Hibernation Station at West Yellowstone where we ate dinner at a place called Geyser Gusher before crashing for the night after a spectacular day.

Tomorrow, we'll head back into Yellowstone to see Old Faithful before heading to see the Grand Tetons and driving into Idaho.

Brown Family Vacation - Day 5

From Mt. Rushmore

Rapid City, SD to Cody, Wyoming

Amazing Day!  The best yet, but there is still so much more to see that it is hard to believe that we can beat today. 

Our first stop was Mt. Rushmore, where we spent some time seeing this national landmark. They have an excellent trail and plenty of viewpoints that you can clearly see the four presidents. We highly recommend it.  And to think, we almost skipped this area to go straight to Yellowstone.

We then drove by the unfinished monument of Crazy Horse. When finished, whenever that will be, it will be the largest sculpture in the world. It was a pretty insane amount to enter, so we just decided to snap a couple of pictures and move on.

We then drove north through the Black Hills, a beautiful large park in and of itself. Our next destination was Devil’s Tower, which has a pretty cool Native American story behind it but geologically is the core of a volcano.  Look it up and read the statistics on this geological wonder, but it was the inspiration of Spielberg’s film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. We had a wonderful lunch at the base of the tower before moving on for a long long drive across Wyoming.

We had originally planned to drive across Montana the whole way on I90, but took a planned detour to go through Big Horn National Park.  Great idea!  Took a while and just about burned the brakes on the van, but it was well worth it.  The scenery is unbelievable.  Again, it is hard to believe we aren’t even to the Rockies yet and the scenes we’ll see there, not to mention Yellowstone and all that Oregon, California, Arizona, and Colorado have to offer.

We stayed at Big Bear Hotel in a townhouse. We crashed that night due to the long drive after a late dinner at a family restaurant called Granny's Kitchen.  Tomorrow, we see Yellowstone National Park, a site that I’ve been wanting to see for a long time. I have see it during the winter, but the summer I’m sure will be spectacular. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Brown Family Vacation - Day 4

From Badlands

Sioux Falls, SD to Rapid City, SD

We left Sioux Falls, SD and drove on I90 west toward Rapid City. Along the way, we decided to stop at this little place called 1880 Western Town. It was along the interstate, so it was convenient.  Great little stop as they had an entire 1880 old west town set up with thousands of original artifacts. Their big draw was original movie props from Dances with Wolves.  We spent some time walking through the town and headed back on toward the Badlands.

The Badlands are pretty spectacular. Amy said that they “look like God’s sand castles.” After driving in nothing but flat grasslands and corn fields for hundreds of miles, you come up on this barren land that was once the bottom of the ocean that has carved out a unique landscape for the area. We stopped for lunch here and drove the 35 mile loop around it before heading to our hotel in Rapid City, the Foothills Inn.

5 of us went to the Firehouse Brewery for dinner, and Jamie and I went to Target to register for our baby. Another long day, but it was nice to start seeing some big sites.  Tomorrow, we’ll have another huge day with Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument, Black Hills, Devil’s Tower, and on toward somewhere in Wyoming. 

Brown Family Vacation - Day 3

Independence, Missouri to Sioux Falls, SD

We left early in the morning and dad made a blistering pace north toward Iowa.  When most of us woke, we were stopped at an exit where they had diverted traffic off of I29.  The entire area was still flooded from the May floods that wiped out Joplin.  Joplin was further down river, but the effects of the flood could be clearly seen here.  We were forced to take a route on US Hwy 59 all the way into Minnesota to I90.  It was a bumpy and difficult drive of corn, corn, and more corn.  Lots of corn.  Did I say corn.  We ate at Pizza Hut, go figure…
Nice little town of Ida Grove, where an independently wealthy guy had built several castles in the town.  Literally in the middle of nowhere, but a nice little quaint town of castles.  Go figure. 

We arrived quite late to Sioux Falls to hotel at nice little Days Inn. where we ate at a local Perkins  which actually hit the spot.  We retired pretty early because we had quite a drive across SD the next day.  

Brown Family Vacation - Day 2

From St. Louis

Paducah, KY to Kansas City, MO

We woke up this morning and headed straight out to St. Louis to see the arch.  We were going to ride to the top, but it was a 3 hour wait.  We opted instead to just enjoy it from the bottom on a beautiful day in St. Louis.  Lunch was at Joey B’s, a nice little American food joint right along the river downtown next to the arch. 

We have added Mt. Rushmore to the itinerary after originally leaving it off.  We’ll travel there via Missouri, Iowa, and South Dakota before trekking further west. 

Our stop tonight was in Independence, just outside Kansas City, Missouri/Kansas at a Super 8.  The family stayed in and ate and relaxed while Jamie and I took in a Kansas City Royals game vs. the Tiger.  Buck night, so I was able to get dollar coke, dogs, and peanuts.  Stadium is pretty new and nice with a great atmosphere.  It was a near sellout.  Royals lost.

Tomorrow, we have a long ride up to South Dakota where we hope we’ll be able to get past Sioux Falls and toward Rapid City. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Brown Family Vacation - Day 1

Me, Jamie, my dad (Charlie), my mom (Jewel), my sister (Amy), niece (Samantha), and my grandmother (Jean), started our 3 week trip out west today to see some good ol American highlights. Our itinerary includes St. Louis, Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, Oregon pacific coast, the Redwoods, Yosemite, Las Vegas, and the Grand Canyon.

This morning, Jamie and I picked up our 9 passenger luxury passenger van.  My dad had booked this van several months ago.  It has 6 leather captain's chairs and a bench seat in the back that coverts to a bed if needed.  Decent storage space and a rather large TV/DVD.  After the first day of travel, we all feel that it'll be a great way to go across the country.  We'll let you know as we go.  Ironically, dad found the van in Cartersville, so Jamie and I picked it up and headed up to pick up the rest of my family in Calhoun.  We then headed to Niota to drop off my mamaw's car that we had borrowed and then headed out.

Our route took us north on 75 to Niota, then we cut across Watts Bar Dam before hitting Hwy 27 to I40.  I40 took us to Nashville where we hit I24 through Crossville and into Kentucky where we have stopped for the night at the Paducah Days Inn.  We ate at a local BBQ place called Backwood BBQ.

Tomorrow, we'll head to St. Louis to see the arch before heading across Missouri where we'll stop somewhere close to Kansas City.

Not really any pictures today, but check back tomorrow for some from St. Louise if you wish.

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