The Beautiful Dessert

My previous blog entry mentioned my next trip to the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Park. We'll be driving down in our car hoping to take only 2 to 3 days to get there. Once there we'll stay in St. George, Utah and take day trips to the various parks. The drive looks long, but since gas is no longer at $4.50 a gallon, it makes it cheaper than flying.

Our hope is to hike with cameras in hand and capture the real beauty of the area. Neither James nor I have ever seen the Grand Canyon so we are very excited to see this amazing geological formation. I've heard good things about Bryce Canyon as well. I'll try to post pictures or blog as I go if I can.

I really love planning trips. I have several online travel sites that I use regularly and some of you may find of interest in planning out your own summer travels.

1. Driving Costs - calculate your fuel costs:

2. Trip Advice - find restaurants, hotels, activities, and tourist hot spots with reviews and occasionally even photos from real people, not travel writers. I've posted many reviews on this site myself:

3. Find the best seat on an airplane - Seat Guru helps you figure out which seat is the best seat on your airplane. Tired of spending hours in the back with a seat that doesn't recline? Wish you knew where the exit rows were? Check out seating charts for the different airline and airplane configurations in advance at

4. Non-US Low Cost Airlines: Trying to find flights in Romania, Greece, Turkey, Spain, or other country and don't know where to start? Try this site for a listing:

5. Home Exchange - I've yet to do this, but it has intrigued me. This may be a way to experience a new place without the high costs of a hotel:

6. Travel Questions answered - want to ask other travelers for suggestions or ask about train schedules in Italy? This is my favorite site for European travel by the travelers, for the travelers. Check out the forums where travelers post comments and answer your questions: I love this site.

7. Maps - you can get directions to almost anywhere via the Michelin map site:

8. Currency Converter - Find out how much this is really costing you:

9. Plot Your Trip - build your itinerary, see the maps, and even add in activities which are easily printed out. This site integrates in with many airline and reservation sites and pulls in your flight & hotel information for a complete itinerary. You can share your trip map and itinerary with family and friends. Travelers can add in expenses, perform Mobile updates, and integrate with your calendar. Check it out:

10. Federal Aviation Administration - get the scoop on travel advisories, laws, regulations BEFORE you go:

Enjoy your summer travels!


Did I Just Do That?

I had a vacation just a few short weeks ago and it feels like it was last year already. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly those wonderful memories sail past and away into the fog. It's like being on a speed boat and watching a piece of seaweed or other floating object fade so quickly from view. Thank goodness we have pictures!

I'm already starting to plan a get-away with James in September. We hope to do a driving vacation down to see the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Park. I had the opportunity to visit that general area two years ago and was absolutely fascinated. We hiked every day (in the early morning when it was cooler). The terrain is so very different from Washington, but every bit as breath taking with its vibrant reds and browns and dessert beauty. The fall means we'll be blessed with the fall foliage too. I'm very excited about the photo opportunities this trip should present.

We had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend with the family. There was a birthday party for my niece, Alison, who turned 6. I also went to visit my mother in Chehalis. James and I fixed up the bike tires and headed out down the Interurban Trail towards Emerald Downs. We were probably less than a mile away when we decided to switch bikes (mine has a gel seat) and within minutes of James taking over, the tire blew with a huge explosion! We walked the bikes back to the nearest road intersection; probably about 1/2 a mile, and then I waited while James rode all the way back and got the van. We then drove to Emerald Downs and watched several horse races. What a wonderful day in the sunshine.

Ah, but work beckons. Thankfully I have a really short week as Friday is my scheduled day off. I am hopeful for another sunny weekend.