vay cay wrap up

The 6th night of our vacation was spent in Kernville, CA.

Image result

Night number 7, was spent in Vegas

Image result for las vegas nevada

We like to mix it up.

So, again

Night Number 6

Night Number 7

Image result for mandalay bay las vegas

In Between, we went here:  

Our last National Park for this trip, which means we’re all ready for the updated National Park Sign Picture Slideshow!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Anyway, We did like Death Valley.  Actually Hub wasn’t crazy about it, but I can’t remember why.  Oh wait

 Yes, it is pretty toasty and this was May 31st.  July is probably the worst time to go, when it averages 115 degrees with highs in the 120’s.  According to the National Park Service, Death Valley is the hottest place in North America.

In this below-sea-level basin, steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Yet, each extreme has a striking contrast. Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life survives in Death Valley.

Beauty isn’t everything!

My family didn’t even want to get out of the car for the sign picture, but finally my Hub and Daughter did walk around a little,

although it made me nervous for them to go too far.  I don’t think this park is meant to be travelled lightly.

I just want to blow up an image from the background of that photo:

Image result for sand people a new hope hope jawa tatooine

If you have binoculars and some patience the people watching here doesn’t disappoint, but I’d stay with the group.

Okay, so back to where we stayed in Kernville…

I was leary at first because it was right across the street from this:

Where I thought we were headed:(  Outdoor Cowboy Mannequins, Noooooo!!  In my opinion, there’s sort of a Fantasy Island level of creepiness that comes with that.

I should have known better.  Hubs travel agenting abilities never fail.  The Sequoia Lodge was totally sweet (no creepy mannequins anywhere on the property, just tons of those cute and pleasant chainsaw bear sculptures… everywhere). This place is probably even better if you actually fish!

but if you don’t fish, it’s still a great place to relax steps away from the rushing Kern River.

Our room had this on the wall:


I’m not embarrassed to admit that it made me Laugh Out Loud …twice.

A few of the other amenities… a fish cleaning shed, patios, gas & charcoal grills, other stuff and lots of those delightful wooden bears.

Amenities where we stayed in Vegas…

1,450 sq foot suite with floor-to-ceiling windows for panoramic views of the Las Vegas valley.  Two bedrooms, one with two Queen Beds and another with a King.  Four TVs, lots of pools… and toptional pools.  Walking through a giant casino, of course and an opportunity to answer lots of interesting questions.

For instance, What does toptional mean?

Can I have your credit card, we want to do the video games??

Image result for mandalay bay las vegas casino

Why are all the churches here super small?

Everything is so shiny!  There’s like no downside, right?

Our kids were curious to see Las Vegas, since we have some friends moving out there and it was a good place for us to fly out of.  We were ready to relax and wrap up our trip, and this was definitely something different:)

day 8
(6/1/17) flying back to sweet home kc, always a good thing!

here’s the trip map again, in case you forgot where we started…




Sequoia and Kings Canyon

Facetious Mommy says by Six Days in nobody in this rented Sonata  really wants to be friends anymore.

We spent the morning in beautiful King’s Canyon National Park, before continuing on to Sequoia.

World’s Most Beautiful Church Camp, wedged between the parks


IMG_1028Tree So Tall, that you’re Still Scrolling.

Okay, little bit more, little bit more aaand got  it!People admire views from within the narrow railing at the top of Moro Rock. Photo courtesy of Paul Johnson.Image result for sequoia national park

Since 1890 people have flocked to this California treasure Image result for sequoia national park vintage photogragh

for the same reason that it is still attracting travellers today… giant trees make everybody look skinny.


Next, we split the distance between Sequoia and Death Valley at this place:

Image result for sequoia lodge kern.



Universal Ups & Downs


Day 4  and we were up bright and early, headed to

Image result for universal studios hollywood


This is where we learned that if our family played quidditch, one out of four of us might then spew our every flavoured beans in the closest Hogwartian, magical trash can.

Image result for universal hollywood harry potter




So Terrible!


We might have also shut down the Simpsons Ride… it was a little more Krusty after we left.


… and after

Image result for simpsons vomit

but we did get to see the Magnum PI car, the set where JB Fletcher rode her bike and the Water World Show.  

Overall we gave Universal Hollywood a big thumbs up

Image result for universal studios celebrity thumbs up


… more road trip soon to come:)






Vacation Part 2

The morning of Day 3 we were ready to pack up and head out for a scenic drive up the coast.  We passed beautiful beaches and headed on up to L.A. so that we could see what that was all about.

On our way, we started noticing some odd roadkill.


toy plushies

Probably a story there.  As we drove along we noticed; Image result for ernie dollImage result for mickey dollImage result for minnie dollImage result for rainbow dash dolland a Image result for minion doll.  They were all, in that order, on the road or smashed up against the concrete barriers.  I wish i’d grabbed the camera, but I kept thinking that we wouldn’t see another one.

I guessed that maybe someone was moving and had them in an open truck bed, but Hub assumed that stressed out parents on a roadtrip were probably winging them out the car windows one at a time whenever someone in the back whined, “how much further?!” or “He’s touching me!”

Lunch Break


The nice people at IN-N-OUT even let us use their bathroom.  “Show us the food you’ve purchased here and we’ll give up the code.”


It was actually pretty tough to get in or out of that place.  It seemed pretty popular, which makes sense because the food was excellent.

We continued to make our way to a Burbank Marriott by the most roundabout ways possible, seeing fancy Beverly Hills houses, Mulholland Drive, Rodeo, Wilshire, Santa Monica blvd. and all that business.

Here is a picture of the kids in front of the Hollywood sign:

If I had the ability to add a little arrow that would definitely help with locating the sign, but since I don’t have those capabilities finding it can be a fun game for you.

More Road Trip still to come:)




Vacation 2017

May 25th this family hit the road for yet another vacation adventure!  What is the ideal American Vacation for the family with an 11 and 12 year old?

SoCal Roadtrip

which looks a little like this:


It was a fun one!

First Day we got going early.  We flew to San Diego and our first stop was the Midway.  We did a San Diego Vay Cay when the kids were babies, but they were on a vay cay to Grandma’s House, so everything was new to them.

 I don’t think they’re ready for the navy, but it’s a pretty cool stop if you’re headed that way.  After that we took the Hornblower Harbor Cruise and then drove around Coronado.

By then we were definitely ready for the hotel We called this the Shortbread mural, for the obvious reason…Image result for girl scout shortbread

We were right on the beach, so we had a lot of fun with that.  

The next day was Day 2 in San DiegoIMG_2263

We took the kids back to some more of our favorites

The Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Old Point Loma Lighthouse, This close-up view of the light room at the top of the Old Point Loma tower reveals the sturdy construction that helped it withstand winter storms. See more lighthouse pictures.which is also


and has awesome tidepoolsThe Tide Pools,

Cabrillo statue and more sweet hiking

Our last stop in San Diego was a highlight for our whole family.  We got to visit my BFF Missy’s house.  I met her in kindergarten and we graduated from high school together (along with a few other fun kids), but I love catching up with her and her awesome family.  

So, I do have a beef with California, which is that nobody will ever let you use their bathroom.  It made me crazy!  Notice the water bottle that I’m carrying in every photo.  I love to hydrate which eventually leads to bathrooms, I like to go to them!  Every CVS, deli, burger joint, etc…

Image result for no public restroom signif you’re lucky, there’s like a security code  for the doorknob that they might consider giving you.

It’s craziness!  Seriously, I’m not looking to move in!

The noted exception being Missy’s house.  Her daughter took me by the hand to show me where their bathroom was.  She walked me right in, actually opened the toilet lid and showed it off proudly, like a tiny Vanna White.  Image result for vanna white turning letters wheel of fortune It was a crack up.  I think that they’re learning to clean it themselves and feeling pretty pumped about it!

Well that’s the 1st third of the SoCal Roadtrip!  I’ll see if I can’t get the rest up soon.








dc talk

Last Friday our family set out on another Van Meter Vacation Adventure!  What is the ideal American Vacation for the family with a 10 and 11 year old?

 of course!

There is so much to do!  By the end of our 1st full day we had visited The White House,

gone through  The National Museum of American History and seen The International Spy Museum!

 I should have bought the gnome:)

Here are a few White House photos…

IMG_9813 IMG_9819


Hub's transportation in the mid 80's, now in the Smithsonian
Hub’s transportation in the mid 80’s, now in the Smithsonian

The next day we had a rental car (Did I mention the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally?  900,000 bikers in DC, roads closed, fun driving).  We headed out to Mt. Vernon, the Washington National Cathedral and The U.S. National Arboretum.

  IMG_9839 IMG_9842 IMG_9853

Later in the day, it rained, which thinned out the crowds a lot, so we walked around and saw memorials.  We made it to the Korean, WW II, Vietnam and Lincoln and were able to take our time, since relatively few other folks were out and about.


Monday, on  

Hub was up with the chickens getting our Washington Memorial tickets, so that was our first stop and it was very cool.  Great Views up there!

After that one, we hit The National Air and Space Museum and then The Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

IMG_9880 IMG_9882 IMG_9886 IMG_9888 Next,

ate one of these  on route to the paddle boats.

I think the huge amount of ice cream trucks that are always all over the place was sadly my kid’s DC highlight.


We were already walking eight to twelve miles a day, so paddle boating seemed like a nice way to round that out.  When you add all that to playing in our tiny hotel pool hotels near George Washington University DC Vacation Triathlon!

Seriously, I'm ready for new knees like Grandma
Seriously, I’m ready for new knees like Grandma

Then on Tuesday, we took the metro to Arlington National Cemetery.

There’s a hop on, hop off tram tour that’s an absolute must for many reasons.  You can catch a breeze, take a break from all the walking and enjoy an informative narrator who explains what your seeing along the way.

IMG_9920  IMG_9925 IMG_9928    After Arlington, the kids got to experience their first cab ride, to our next stop, The National  Gallery of Art.

I loved it, but I was also reminded how great we have it in KC because The Nelson is pretty amazing.  I could have spent all day going through the gallery, but we were losing the kids, so it was time to walk on over to The U.S. Botanic Garden, which the kids thought was pretty cool.

Finally a little feet off of floor time at the hotel, because they also were pretty excited to have cable.  We caught up on lots of HGTV at night and the kids loved Chopped Junior.

Our final full day of Vacation started at the office of our congressman

IMG_9954 Hub had set up a tour of the house and senate.



Our very last, official DC destination was The Supreme Court.  You can walk in, sit down and hear all about it, which is so great because we were wiping out by then!

Airport here we come
6/2/16                  Airport here we come!



All Wet

After hiking out of the Grand Canyon, most people just hit the quarter showers, but not this family.

We actually drove four and a half hours to a Comfort Inn in Hurricane, Utah.

It wasn’t as bad as it sounds.  We ate 2nd lunch at The General Store and I was able to pick up one of those sweet Grand Canyon coffee mugs, with my name on it.  Yup, using it right now:)

The drive to Zion is barren and beautiful.

After dinner at Triple TJ’s (Good find, our hotel recommended… we were so tired by then that they probably thought that we were zombies…  “Zombie want BLT!  BLT good!  Zzzzz….”

We were quite sleepy.


June 5th

We were ready for a special and relaxing day at Zion National Park.  We told the kids that we weren’t camping or anything like that, just enjoying the park from the shuttle and probably throwing in one hike that they would be sure to love.

At the 8th and final shuttle stop on the Zion Canyon Shuttle, we disembarked to take a hike that is gorgeous, unique and highly recommended by many as the hike to do, if you have one day in Zion.

We strolled down the paved trail, which covers about a mile and a half, along with lots and lots of other folks, young and old.  We were surrounded by high stone walls covered in hanging gardens, watered by the weeping walls.

At the bottom we looked for a good picnic spot which was tricky, because there’s a bit of a squirrel problem.  There is a lot of anti squirrel feeding signage throughout the parks.

The squirrels are pretty bold.  In this photo you can see one of the aggressive squirrels checking out my little pack seconds after we sat down.  To be fair to the squirrel, it did contain two hoagies and a bag of Twizzlers.IMG_7380

After lunch we were ready for the fun part.  There aren’t many places in the world where you can hike up a clear, shallow running stream, in a narrow canyon, between straight up, towering sandstone walls.  We crossed back and forth, in and out of the cool water of the north fork of the Virgin River.

. Riverside Walk It took daughter and I a minute to find our feet, with all of the ups and downs and rounded, mossy river rock, but my son was awesome at navigating his way all over the place, without falling.  IMG_7395

We took our time and enjoyed hiking in the knee to waist deep water with the riverbed alternating between sandy parts and areas with a lot of loose rocks, from boulders to gravel, on our way to the famous Narrows.

 IMG_7397 IMG_7390IMG_7392

Well, we didn’t quite make it to the narrows. We were well on our way when we heard a small, low grumble of thunder.  I looked to Hub to call it, “I think if it’s just that and a couple rain drops, we should keep going. We’ll turn back if it’s more.”

We didn’t go much further before a pronounced crack of thunder made the decision clear. The rain went from the slightest sprinkle to a consistent shower. Hub and I attempted to calmly reassure our kiddos, while maintaining the relative jog back upstream.

The thunder rolled and the rain picked up and became a thick curtain of marble sized hail. We pulled the kids under some overhanging rock and paused to catch our breath, the water was at my waist. A woman running by shouted, “DON”T STOP!” over the downpour.

(I tried to find a photo online to illustrate this soaked, wild woman and the relative drama of the whole situation)


We didn’t stop.  The kids screamed as the hail pelted their soft skin. “Okay, the hail really hurts for sure, but, a flash flood or lightening down here could kill us.  That’s worse, right?”  This is the conversation that Hub and I had using our telepathic wonder twin powers, while yelling, “Keep moving!  You guys are doing awesome!”

I watched one of theseImage result for keen float by beyond my reach.  A man saw me look down and yelled, “Leave it!”  He somehow, was able to grab it and I looked up in time to catch it in the air.

Thankfully,  we never saw lightening.  We did note that the water rose around a foot higher.   Also, I fell behind momentarily, lost my footing and got washing machined, and that wasn’t great, but I have to say, we sure made some good time on that hike.

My son helped a younger girl whose mother had asked him to grab her hand and happily we all ended up back on the paved trail in and kept on walking.  Although the weather had already begun to calm, we went ahead and piled on the crowded shuttle, back to dry clothes.  We were just freezing.

That was the end of our Zion day.  With dry clothes on, we headed out to find a restaurant in Bryce Canyon City.  IMG_7414

We found “Restaurant”, There’s not a whole lot in Bryce Canyon City, but it was great! The staff sang Happy Birthday to my, now 11 year old, son and brought him out the Big Brownie Buckaroo Sundae.IMG_7409 IMG_7413 That sundae was awesome!

We spent the rest of the evening driving around Bryce Canyon National Park.  We saw rainbows and animals roaming around at dusk, but we were all pretty ready for Canyon City Best Western, where we slept the sleep of the very, very tired.

IMG_7442 IMG_7444IMG_7432 She blends right in with all the nature.