Dress Fitting and My First Drive-In Movie!

The weekend after we got back from our trip to Utah I had my first Wedding dress fitting.  My mom and I thought it would be more fun if we invited my Grandma Jones, aunts, and a few cousins to come to Peoria for lunch at Olive Garden and Wedding cake sampling and then to David’s Bridal for my fitting.

Update! Since the wedding is over and James has seen my dress, I am adding the following pictures from our fun day!

The day was a lot of fun and Grandma Jones, Linda, and Katie (who was getting ready to move to Florida) were all able to make it.  I hadn’t seen my dress in almost a month, so it was exciting to get to try it on again (and fall in love with it again) and show it off to my family.  Overall it was just really nice to spend time with my family and catch up with everyone and how they were doing!

After we finished up with the fitting and our impromptu side trip to Talbots, I called James to let him know I was headed home and he asked if I wanted to meet him in Springfield.  I asked for what and he gave me his normal vague… just meet me in Springfield, so I went ahead and met him in Wal-Mart parking lot and got in his car having no idea what we were doing.

We ended up going to Alexander’s Steak House for a quick but very tasty dinner followed by my very FIRST drive-in movie!!  I had never been to a drive-in before, so I was really excited when James said we were going to see a double feature of Angels and Demons (one of my favorite books) and Obsessed at the Route 66 Drive-in in Springfield!  The weather was perfect and both movies were pretty good, making my first experience a great one!

Last leg of the Utah trip

Monday morning we got up refreshed and ready to head home after being gone for well over a week!  On our way home we briefly stopped in Louisiana… Missouri that is, to do a little sightseeing and stretch our legs.  It was nice to see the Mississippi Rive and know we were getting close to home!

After crossing the river into Illinois we decided to stop in Springfield to get James some good athletic shoes and sandals from Trade Home Shoes in White Oaks Mall in Springfield, IL. This was in anticipation of our trip to Marco Island, Florida coming up in a few weeks.

James found some really good shoes, but was slightly appalled at the price, way more than he had ever spent on shoes!! I reassured him (along with the salesmen) that the shoes were definitely worth it, and he went ahead and bought them (wearing the athletic shoes out of the store).  While at the mall,we also looked in some of the jewelry stores for wedding rings.  Both of us knew we wanted something simple and amazingly enough both of us saw rings that we liked.  We didn’t purchase anything, but it was nice having a better idea of what we were looking for.

** Update: We ended up not getting either of our rings from Springfield (James’ came from Kay’s in the Forsyth mall and mine was from Zales online), yet both of the rings were the ones we had originally picked out as our favoriteson this trip! **

After leaving the mall, we made the final drive home!!

The grand total for our trip was: 10 days (Saturday, May 16th – Monday, May 25th), 10 states (Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, & Kansas), 3459 miles, 2402 pictures (almost 31 GB including the raw files), and way too many memories to count!!

Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri… on the way home

Friday we had finished up with the major places we wanted to see while on the trip, so Saturday we got up and started heading back towards home… in a roundabout manner that is.  We took US Highway 160 across Colorado to Interstate 25, stopping here and there as something sparked our interest.  One of these places was Pagosa Springs, where we took a couple of hours to bathe in the natural hot springs.  This was my first time in at a natural hot springs and after the busy week we’d had hiking, climbing, and driving it was a welcomed stop.  We also stopped along the highway at Treasure falls, a beautiful waterfall with a trail (we didn’t hike!) going up to it.  Also along the way we stopped and took some pictures at the  Continental Divide, yet by this point it was very cold, very rainy, and just totally nasty weather out!

Around this time we  decided that while we were having a good time stopping all over the place,  if we were going to make it to my cousin Stephan’s high school graduation party on Sunday we were going to have to get serious, quite making so many fun (but not necessary stops), and get going towards Kansas City!!  Thus, the rest of the day was spent with the pedal to the medal.

Sometime late Saturday night (I think around midnight or 1am Sunday), James was exhausted and I took over in Colby, KS and drove almost the rest of the way through Kansas.

Around 7am Sunday morning we were about 1/2 hour outside of Kansas City and I called my mom to find out where they were staying and if they had an extra bed and shower we could use since we’d been up basically all night.  Mom said their hotel wasn’t far from where Stephan’s graduation party was going to be held and to come on over.  Thus after getting a quick (well actually not so quick) breakfast off the interstate we headed into downtown Kansas City, Missouri to my parents hotel.

We initially planned to get a quick nap and shower before going to the party, but there were so many stories to share with my parents and then the rest of the Davis side of the family who had also come for the party we ended up getting showers, but no nap!

The graduation party was held in downtown Kansas City in the building where my Aunt Becky & Uncle Steve have their condo.  Everything was very very nice and the view of the city was amazing (especially from their condo)!  Just about the whole Davis side of the family was there as well as a number of the Kansas City Koehler’s, so it was a great chance for James to meet a lot of my family before the wedding!

We had an enjoyable time, but were exhausted from not getting much sleep, so instead of trying to make it the whole way home we stopped shortly outside of Kansas City in Kingdom City, Missouri and crashed until the next morning.

Natural Bridges, Moki Dugway, Valley of the Gods, and much much more!

After getting a good night’s rest, we got up Friday and headed out to finish up the Utah leg of our trip.  After a pit stop at a local Blanding gas station for some provisions for the day (PB & J, chips, fruit, drinks, and some ice) we headed to Natural Bridges National Monument. Still feeling pretty sore, we decided try and avoid any long hikes, but while James waited in the car I walked the Horsecollar Ruin Overlook Trail. It was a pretty easy hike and there were little piles of stone cairns all along the trail to help mark which way to go.

Since James sat out on the previous trail, he was ready to do the Owachomo Bridge trail.  This was a great trail that allowed us to hike all the way down underneath the bridge and then cross under it so we could get pictures from both sides.  We had a great time traipsing all around the bridge and even though I slipped and got banged up pretty good on my back and elbow, this was one of my favorite trails!

Next, after finishing up at Natural Bridges, we headed up the Moki Dugway (listed by Forbes Traveler as one of the Scariest Drives in the United States) to make our way to Valley of the Gods.  We stared at the top of the Moki Dugway which has an elevation of 6425 feet and drops 1100 feet in 3 miles!!  This is accomplished by switchback after switchback almost the entire time, which can get kind of dicey when there are motor homes going the opposite direction!  Yet, the view from the dugway over Valley of the Gods is amazingly beautiful!!

Once we reached the bottom of the Moki Dugway, we turned off on the road through Valley of the Gods.  The drive through Valley of the Gods was absolutely stunning and I strongly suggest it to anyone who gets the chance.  There was almost no one else on the road except for a couple of cars, one annoying motor home, and a real life cowboy (on a horse even) guiding a few stray cattle.  I mention the motor home because in one of the most scenic locations, the motor home was parked so that it was impossible to get the shot without getting the motor home in it.  Yet, as a couple of the pictures below show, I was able to edit the motor home out afterwards!

Even though it looked like it was going to start pouring down rain and had already started sprinkling, we decided to go to Gooseneck State Park. Gooseneck State Park features five miles of winding “goosenecks” chasms created by the San Juan River that are only one linear mile across!

Our next stop was Mexican Hat for some fuel and some food!  While there I got a picture of one of their “wall decorations”.  My only thought… only in Utah!! J  We also got a picture of the rock formation Mexican Hat the town is named for.  This was an interesting experience because the road back to the formation was dirt, had lots of potholes, and in general was difficult to maneuver along.

Monument Valley was next on our trip and as we got closer the rain and temperature was just right for some amazing pictures!  Unfortunately, another car had the same idea and kept pulling in front of us and leaving their car lights on.  The glare from the lights caused some problems with the pictures and caused James to really jump through hoops to get some decent shots.  After getting our pictures, we didn’t go all the way through Monument Valley, only skirting the edge, but what we did see was amazingly beautiful!

After seeing all the major sites we planned on seeing in Utah we headed down into Arizona and then east towards Four Corners.  I’d never been to Four Corners, so I was looking forward to it, but James (who had been already) warned me that it really wasn’t anything that wonderful.  Even though it was Arizona, as we got closer to Four Corners it started raining and raining and raining and was cold, until by the time we got there it was coming down pretty good, there was almost no one there, and I was freezing!

Yet, we got out and got our obligatory pictures to prove we had been in all four states at one time!  James doing it in a little bit funnier way than me, but we quickly got our pictures taken and headed to our next pit stop in Cortex, Colorado. In Cortex we found a room for the night, got something to eat, and then went to the local movie theater (which reminded me of Kewanee’s in size and cleanliness) to watch Night at the Museum 2.

Wilson Arch, Newspaper Rock, & Needles

Thursday morning after my interesting breakfast (see previous posting), I headed back up to the hotel room to finish getting ready and tell James what he’d missed out on.  We had a great time in Moab and could have spent a lot longer, but there were more things we wanted to see and do before heading home!  We finished packing and loading the car and after a brief stop to pick up some souvenirs we headed out of Moab with the Needles area of Canyonlands as our destination for the day.

On our way south towards Needles, we pulled over to take some pictures of Wilson Arch, an arch that is right along the road and has a pull over and small hiking trail.  We didn’t hike much, just far enough to get a few pictures and then we were back on the road.

As we wove our way through to Needles we came across Newspaper Rock, which is a huge flat rock wall with all types of petroglyphs on it. It is one of the largest collections of petroglyphs and was amazing to see.

Shortly after leaving Newspaper Rock, we got to the Needles entrance of Canyonlands! It was pretty interesting to see everything from the ground, where before we had seen it from the sky.  We were still pretty sore from the previous days, so we only did a couple of short trails.  One of them was to Roadside Ruin, which is an ancient grain bin that had been found beneath an under hanging.

We also spent some time at Cave Spring Trail, which is a natural spring (with a few petroglyphs) and also includes a ladder up on top of the rocks that form the spring.  The area on top of the springs offered a great view of the “needle” formations that this area of Canyonlands is known for.

After finishing up in Canlyonlands, we headed out of the park and towards our stopping point for the day, Blanding, Utah.  It was still pretty early when we got to Blanding, but the past days had been long and tiring, so we decided to have an early dinner at the Old Tymer Restaurant and to go back to the hotel and crash for the night.

Walking into an episode of COPS

Thursday, May 21st we got up and prepared to depart Moab.   As James packed and got stuff ready, I went down to enjoy the continental breakfast and walked into a real life episode of COPS (just not filmed!).

The lady in charge of keeping the continental breakfast running smoothly was being followed around by a cop who was trying to talk to her, but was being soundly ignored!  The cop was woman in her early 20’s and pretty short (maybe right at five foot, but she could have been a little shorter), while the lady she was trying to talk to was probably in her 50’s and at least 5’7” or 5’8”.  The cop kept telling the lady she had to leave and the lady refused, so finally the cop told her she was under arrest for trespassing and tried to handcuff her… that’s where things got really interesting.

The lady completely rebelled against the handcuffs and the cop had to fight her to get them on.  This entire time the continental breakfast area was packed with hotel guests who weren’t even trying to hide the fact that they were watching the whole thing!  Also, there was another lady who must have been the person in charge of the hotel at the time who kept trying to cajole the lady being arrested into behaving and not causing any problems.  They were yelling back and forth about how this was wrong and just not right (the lady being arrested) and that she should just go and not make it worse (the lady in charge).  The cop finally got the lady arrested and handcuffed (after having to take her into a back room to get it done) and they left.

Afterwords I overheard the lady who was in charge talking to someone about the fact that the lady who was arrested had been there for a while and was always in charge of the continental breakfast area.  Yet, the new young manager had come in early in the week and completely changed the breakfast set up.  This set off the lady who was arrested, who told the manager it was either her way or she was quitting.  He told her fine, she no longer worked at the hotel, but I guess she had a change of heart because she showed up to work the next day.  When the manager found out about this he said she no longer worked there and had to leave, when she didn’t, that’s when the cops were called, which is shortly before I came downstairs. Whew, quite a way to start the morning!

Canyonlands, Arches, Rafting, & Deadhorse State Park

Air Tour of Canyonlands

Wednesday, May 20th started out extra early as we got up and headed out to the Moab Airport for our scenic flight over Canyonlands National Park.  Canyonlands is divided into three main sections: Islands in the Sky, Needles, and the Maze.  These sections are separated by the Colorado River and its tributaries and because there are no paved roads/bridges connecting the different sections, it is difficult to get to the different areas.

Thus, many people visit Islands in the Sky (whose entrance is near Moab and Arches) and some people visit Needles (whose entrance is further south), but very few people visit the Maze area.  Because of this, we decided to take the flight so we could get to see all three areas of Canyonlands and from the best seat in the house, up in the air!  We had a very knowledgeable pilot who kept us entertained with the history of the park and the land formations, and were able to get some pretty good pictures.

Arches

After the flight we hurried over to Arches to see a few things we missed the previous day.  Similar to the day before, we went back to where we had left off the day before and tried to get in as many trails and scenic overlooks as we could before we needed to leave for our rafting trip!

Rafting Trip

Once we finished with Arches, we went back to Moab for our next stop, Adrift Adventures, to get ready for our half-day trip rafting the Colorado River from Fisher Towers back towards Moab (close to the route we drove the day before).  Our raft was guided by a young lady who told us shortly after we got out on the water that this was her FIRST time actually guiding!!  That kind of freaked out a few people on the raft who had already expressed their fear of the raft tipping, but I had faith in our guide… or at least figured I couldn’t do anything about it now!!  The trip was fun yet uneventful, with our guide getting us through even the roughest patch ok (yet she admitted afterwards she thought we might tip at one point!).  We did have a water fight with another raft, yet the other guide was a little quicker than ours, so we never really got a chance to get them as well as they got us!

After the rafting trip we were still feeling pretty good, a little tired but not ready to call it a day, so we decided to head over to Deadhorse State Park and to see some of Islands in the Sky (aka Canyonlands) from the ground!

Deadhorse State Park

Deadhorse State Park’s claim to fame in the area is an amazing overlook that lets views see canyons, bluffs, as well as the Colorado River.  The overlook area looked like it was recently remodeled and made for a nice place to take pictures and enjoy the scenery.

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Late Afternoon Hike at Canyonlands

After finishing up at Deadhorse, we continued along to the Islands in the Sky entrance for Canyonlands.  By this point we were getting a little (lot tired), so we stopped in the visitor’s center to purposely look for a short yet scenic trail.  We settled on one that looked like it wouldn’t be too bad and would get us a view of Upheaval Dome, which we had seen from the air and looked pretty neat.

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Yet, as we started walking, we quickly realized that the trail really wasn’t marked that well.  We did our best to try and follow what we thought was the trail, but after a quarter mile hike turned into almost 45 minutes later and we couldn’t see the dome and didn’t even think we were on the trail, I decided to climb the nearest rock formation and see if I could figure out where we were and where we needed to be.  I was able to look around and enjoy the amazing view, but upheaval dome was nowhere in sight.  It was starting to get late and dark, so we  meandered our way back the way we thought we had came and finally found our way back to the car (whew!).

Yet, even after all of this we still weren’t quite done.  Since it was so close to sunset, we decided to find a place to take some sunset pictures of Canyonlands.  Somehow we happened upon the perfect spot and were able to get some amazing pictures and get a great view of the sunset!

Arches National Park

Tuesday (May 19th) we got up early and headed to Arches National Park, just outside of Moab!  This was one of the main places I really wanted to visit while in Utah so I was very excited.  We decided to drive all the way to the end of the park and work our way back towards the entrance, going on the different trails that interested us.

We went on many different trails and had a good time looking at all the “frocks” as James laughingly called them (frocks = f**king rocks).

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Some of our favorite sights were Delicate Arch (the one featured on Utah license plates) and the area around double arches.

Walking up to Double Arches, we started talking to another couple that we then traded taking pictures with up in base one of the arches.  This allowed for some great pictures!!

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We then continued over to the area next to Double Arches, Windows where we also got some amazing pictures!

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The weather had stopped cooperating, so even though we managed to see more of arches and get some pictures, we decided to call it a day at arches at least and head off to the scenic Route 128.

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Route 128 winds around the eastern side of Arches, following the Colorado River. Along this route there were some amazing views of the mountains and the river, as well as an old abandoned suspension bridge.  We also took the VERY bumpy Fisher Tower Road back to Fisher Towers, which are interesting rock formations right along the edge of a camp ground!

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We finished up our drive and stopped by Smitty’s Golden Steak, a western style restaurant, for some dinner before heading back to the hotel and collapsing!

Colorado and heading into Utah

Sunday morning (May 17th) after breakfast with Ty & Austin we packed up and headed into Colorado towards Denver.  Denver is only about 2 hours from Cheyenne and along the way we stopped at the Colorado visitor’s center and Kohls to get James some new shorts and shirts.

Arriving in Denver, I thought we were going by the capital, so I tried giving James directions yet he seemed to have someplace else in mind! Elitch Gardens!  This is an amusement park that previously was owned by Six Flags until about two years ago, but is now under different management.  This was the first time James and I had been to an amusement park together and we had a pretty good time and went on all the different rollercoaster’s.  Unfortunately none of the water rides were open yet (they didn’t open until the following weekend), so after we finished riding the rollercoaster’s we decided to head back on our way.  Yet, before leaving, we did end up going by the state capital!

We headed out of Denver on I-70 further up into the mountains.  As it started to get later in the afternoon/early evening we looked for a place to stop and ended up in Silverthorne, a resort type town that was very quaint.  Before stopping, we ended up in Frisco getting fuel (which was one exit past Silverthorne) and I saw a beautiful lake (actually the Dillon Reservoir) with the mountains in the background.  It was absolutely amazing with the sunset in the background and I had James backtrack towards Silverthorne on a two lane road that ran right next to the lake.  We stopped a couple of times and got some truly beautiful pictures.

After getting our pictures, we got our hotel room and then headed to the Dillon Dam Brewery for some dinner.

The next morning we headed back out on I-70 west towards Utah!  Along the way we stopped at one of the most picturesque rest areas I’ve ever visited.  It was located along the edge of White River National Forest and had trails so you could walk along the river.  We stopped and did a little walking before heading back on the road.

Around mid-afternoon we crossed into Utah and stopped at the first rest stop.  It wasn’t the official visitor’s center (which we did continue on to see), but it did have a trail up to an overlook that gave us a great view of the Utah landscape.

We then made our way to our destination, Moab, Utah!  We stayed at the La Quinta Inn, which was located more on the southern side of Moab, but was reasonably priced and had very nice rooms.  By the time we got to the hotel, got checked in, and got our luggage inside, we were pretty exhausted, so we decided to get something to eat. We ended up at Cassano’s Italian Restaurant in downtown Moab and enjoyed some good Italian food and nice view of the town.

The Start of our Utah Trip!

We started our trip to Utah Saturday, May 16th, early in the morning.  As some of you may know, the 16th is my brother’s birthday and James and I had this crazy idea that we were going to drive all day and surprise him on his birthday by just showing up at his house in Cheyenne, Wyoming!  To make this work we had to enlist the aid of Austin (his amazing girlfriend) in order to make sure he’d be there and it would all work out.

Thus, as we made our way across the country from Illinois, through Missouri (stopping to try and see a covered bridge, but instead seeing a really flooded road to a covered bridge), up briefly through Iowa and into Nebraska.  All the long miserable way through boring Nebraska (except for one nice interlude) and then finally into Wyoming!!  The entire trip I had been in contact with Austin via text messages, so we knew that they would be just getting home from dinner as we got into Cheyenne.

After some brief problems finding their specific apartment, we quietly walked up to the door, range the doorbell, and stepped off to the side so Ty couldn’t see us standing there.  Ty opened the door and we stepped into the light and said “Happy Birthday!!!!”.  My brother who always has something to say and is never at a loss for words, was speechless!! He just stood there blankly looking at us until I gave him a hug and told him how happy we were to see him!  He then kind of came out of it and asked us inside.  As we got inside Ty looked at Austin and not realizing that she was in on it the whole time said “Look, my sister and James are here for my birthday”.  We just laughed and Austin said she knew and then told him how she had known about the the whole time and how we had been texting back and forth over the week and the whole day planning this!  Ty was once again speechless and then said, so that’s why you’ve been acting so crazy all day!!

It turns out that in order to make sure they didn’t have a bunch of people at their house and that the house was clean and ready for us to visit, Austin had to act a little on the crazy side!  First telling Ty that he needed to help her clean the house so people could come over and then telling him that she didn’t want anyone to come over, and all sorts of other stuff like that!  In fact when we rang the doorbell Austin told Ty he better not have invited anyone over… knowing the whole time that it was us at the door!

Anyway, Ty gave us a tour of their apartment, which was beautifully decorated and very nice, and then we went over to Austin’s parents house to get the Cold Stone ice cream they had left over there from earlier.  Once we got back to Ty’s apartment, we could tell Ty was still in shock over everything and he kept saying he just couldn’t believe it!!  It was fun to catch up with Ty and Austin and we decided to get up and go out for breakfast the next morning before we continued our trip to Utah.

After a restful nights sleep, we got up and had a hearty breakfast and had a great time talking, especially since Ty had finally got over the shock of us being in Wyoming!  After breakfast we said our goodbyes and headed back on the road, first through Colorado and then into Utah!