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New Website, New Blog, but the Old Blog Archive remains: September 28, 2023

After many years of wanting a real website, this month I finally have a website designed by the very knowledgeable Rey Rey Rodriguez ( TheMindOfReyRey ). My old blog,  Vacation-Travel-Adventure  continues with the same address but it is located in the "Archives" tab on my new website . The new blog which is a continuation but with much better resolution for 4K screens, it is now at .

Road Trip Part 4, Family visits: September 20-28, 2020

From Ely, Minnesota, we drove south toward Lake Superior continuing through Wisconsin and Illinois to Columbus, Ohio, to visit my first great niece. Aurora Amador was born to Brittany and Anthony on September 6, 2020, which was also the day after her mother worked her last day. 

It took us two long days of driving to get to Aurora's house from Ely. Along the way we drove through Finland (Minnesota) and stopped at Split Rock Lighthouse on Lake Superior.

1909 Split Rock Lighthouse on Lake Superior
Our car's GPS had quite a few "senior moments" going through Ohio, but finally we arrived. We spent all of the next day with Brittany and Aurora and my brother Leonard and his spouse Kristin (Brittany's parents) who had arrived in Ohio just a few days before. Because of all the Covid-19 restrictions, we haven't visited with Leonard and Kristin for months. We haven't seen Brittany and Anthony since sometime last year. We wore masks because of all the places we'd recently visited.

The Amadors (photo borrowed)
The next day we stopped in to say our goodbyes and drove south again this time to Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky because it was on the way to our planned family visit in Arkansas.

Mammoth Cave NP was a good place to catch our breath after all the driving. We walked every trail--none of them are very long and visited Mammoth Cave. 

We saw several deer on our trail walks. The woods has some really large trees, but the vegetation was so monotonously green despite having both conifer and deciduous trees.

Because of Covid-19 there are no ranger-led tours of the cave. The park service did have rangers spread out along the walking route to explain key aspects of what we were seeing.

Because the dinner restaurant at the park was closed, we drove to nearby towns to have dinner. We stayed in Mammoth Cave Lodge's perfectly comfortable Sunset Terrace building. Pre and post Covid-19 a visit to the park would have been more interesting with many more cave exploration possibilities. Also, they will once again have a lantern tour of Mammoth Cave that sounded very cool.

After our Mammoth Cave interlude, we made the long drive to Rogers, Arkansas, to visit with my Aunt Bessie and Uncle Bob. Bessie is my mother's sister. In the 1990s we visited Bessie and Bob while they were working in Papua New Guinea. Now, they live in the town where Walmart began. We got on the road early and arrived in Rogers in time to enjoy a wonderful meal together at the River Grille.

The next day, my cousin Wayne and my cousin Paul and his spouse Amy arrived for a visit.

Amy, Paul, me, Dan, Wayne
Paul, me, and Wayne
Our next family visit was a big detour south to Plano, Texas, to have a meal with my niece Christine and her husband Bill. It was last minute because our reason for returning to California by October 1 had vanished allowing us to keep traveling a few more days. At Christine's suggestion, Dan and I got tickets to the Dallas Arboretum to see their Autumn show. We love gardens so that was a perfect way for us to fill the time until dinner. The gardens were extraordinary and the pumpkin installations were creative and fun. Even though we were in an outdoor garden, masks were required for everyone at all times.

Quinceañera photos
The Dallas Arboretum provides a beautiful backdrop for quinceañera photos. We saw lots of beautiful young women in gorgeous gowns surrounded by photographers.

Squares drawn on the grass to keep groups separate
Bill and Christine at Mexican Sugar Restaurant
Despite pandemic worries and masks, it was really nice to visit, however brief, with people we love.

The next day was another early morning for a long drive to overnight in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Next stop: Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado.