We took advantage of Alex’s national parks pass once more on the start of our summer vacation. We drove from Highlands Ranch to Alexandria, MN for some time on the lake, and made a stop in Wall, SD along the way to check out the Badlands.
We drove the length of the park, and took a few short hikes, spending our entire Saturday inside the park. The Badlands is more kid friendly than a lot of national parks. In most locations, you are free to walk off trail, scramble up rocks, and climb on pretty much anything you see. This fact alone instantly made this one of the boys’ favorites.
It was pretty typical South Dakota spring weather – reasonably warm and sunny, with a healthy dose of wind. We had excellent luck with the wildlife, seeing several groups of bison, a herd of bighorn sheep, several deer, some pronghorn, and of course, plenty of prairie dogs.
Our 2019 Spring Break is dedicated to a National Parks tour, since our youngest son Alex has the 4th grade National Parks passport. The first day was a drive from Denver to Moab. Naturally, we had to stop at the border rest stop for some gratuitous pictures welcoming us to Utah.
The entrance to Arches National Park is just a few miles North of Moab, so we decided to swing by on our way into town to both stretch our legs and christen the adventure. We were immediately infatuated with the park. While it may not present the backcountry opportunities of Yosemite or Glacier, the colors and rock formations are stunning.
We came back to the park on the afternoon of our second day in town. The boys wanted another shot at climbing the walls around Double Arch. We also made quick work of the 3 mile round trip hike out to Delicate Arch to catch the sunset. It was well worth the effort. The arch itself was swarming with tourists catching selfies, but the colors and the snow-capped peaks in the background made for an eye popping scene.
We did a little more scrambling around the Windows and Balanced Rock, and called it a trip. There was so much more to see, but our itinerary was full. We all agreed that this was a park worth returning to.
We technically arrived in Kona yesterday afternoon, but all we managed to do was check into the hotel, get some dinner, and do a little exploring around the sprawl of the Hilton grounds in Waikoloa. Body clocks were still askew, so we woke up this morning around 5:00, which gave us just a little time for more exploring before sitting down to enjoy our $29/person continental breakfast (good thing Hilton “gold” members get two free continental breakfasts!). Did we mention, things are expensive here in Waikoloa?
The pictures below show several scenes from walking around the grounds. We got to watch the trainers feeding the dolphins, and saw a couple of sea turtles swimming in the local lagoon.
After breakfast we went to the pool for some swimming and sliding. There are several pools here on the facility, so we’ll do more exploring in future days. That left us only partially sun burned, so we decided to take a break and go grab some lunch off-site. We drove up to the little town of Waikoloa Village, which is where Lara and I stayed in a condo the last time we were on the island in 2005. Not much had changed in this neck of the woods.
Then we went to Hapuna State Beach to complete our “Day 1” sun burns and test the waves. This was the first time in the Pacific for the boys. Evan jumped right in with body surfing and wave diving. Alex was a little more reluctant, but got the hang of it after first burying himself neck deep in the sand. Time to sign off now. Tomorrow we head to Hilo for a helicopter tour of waterfalls and Volcanoes National Park. We can’t wait!
Lara and I took a two week swing around Italy in Late 2000. We visited Milan, Florence, Pisa, Rome, and Venice. It was our first extended trip together, and probably served as the event that bound us together. There’s nothing like travel to put a relationship to the test!
This was a fantastic adventure. The scenery, the history, and of course, La Dolce Vita… We have to admit that it’s true, the Italians know how to live. Two weeks was hardly enough. We’re definitely hope to return many more times in the future!