Closing out 2019 – Hiking in Valley of Fire State Park

Between Christmas and New Years we spent a couple nights in Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada, about 60 minutes northeast of Las Vegas. For some amazing pictures, check out the park’s website at While you are there, check out the trail map. It is the most amazing trail map I have seen!

The camping is first-come first-served (72 sites with only a handful of sites having electricity and water). The campground was full the two nights we stayed there. 

We picked up the “What to do in a day” flyer from the visitor center and did our best to be tourists. 

We hiked the White Domes Loop on day one. 

The next day we hiked the Fire Wave. It is not on the trail map because it is not really a trail. It is a short hike from Parking Area 3. I popped the colors on this a bit, but the reality is so much better than the photo!

And Rainbow Vista. At the top of the hike we found this Compass Barrel Cactus just begging to be in the picture.

And Mouse’s Tank. Side note, until we stayed at Hueco Tanks State Park in Texas I did not know that a tank was the name for a natural collection point for water. The tanks I have seen since then have all been depressions in the rock (usually sandstone) where water collects during a runoff. So, the tank was not much to look at. But, along the way there were petroglyphs and a side trail that gives you a view of Fire Canyon. 

On the way back, we snuck through a small slot and found this small canyon/valley. It was a wonderful, peaceful spot that we had to ourselves! And yes, the rocks were worth the picture!

All beautiful. Even though the weather was comfortable and the hikes were short, the sun was out, the air was dry, and bringing water is a definite must.

Those were the last hikes of 2019. As a dear friend and wise woman told us, “Keep moving!” That’s our plan!


Quest For the Best $5 Meal

We have embarked on this journey with many ideas for travel themes: Friends and Family (over 100 in the first month), National Parks and Monuments (one – Pipestone National Monument), Roadside Attractions (largest ball of twine in Cawker City, KS and largest peace pipe in Pipestone, MN),

and the best piece of pie. There is one candidate for the best piece of pie, the story is that cousin Doug bought the pie as part of a fundraiser.  We need to follow up and see if we can get to the pie source!

The exciting news is that we are adding a new quest. Where can you get the best meal for $5?

Our stop to see the largest ball of twine in Cawker City included spending some time in Mankato, KS for no specific reason other than it was close to Lovewell State Park, our camping spot. Well, we heard of a supper sandwich special, only available on Monday evenings, at a very, very local spot. The proprietress was a bit surprised when we walked in! Diane had the BLT and I had the Ham Salad sandwich. The meal included potato chips, potato salad, coleslaw, red jello with a dollop of whip cream, and white cake for dessert. All for $5. The ice tea was extra, but I still count this a great $5 meal. (I’m reluctant to publish the name of the local eatery, but if we hear from our Mankato acquaintances that they want the publicity, I’ll publish details.)

This would have been the end of the story, except that a couple weeks later we were visiting Aunt Lavonne at the Wakefield Care Center. She invited us to lunch the next day. We found out that the meal would be $5! Fried chicken, scalloped potatoes, corn, peaches, a dinner roll, and angel food cake with a scoop of tapioca pudding. This time the coffee was included!

So, it looks like there is a whole new world of under appreciated $5 meals. Currently, I am calling this a tie for best $5 meal. Each meal had its charms and each meal was a delightful experience.

Sitting in the honorable mention spot is a Runza sandwich. If you have no idea of what a Runza is, you can look it up here. One cheese Runza cost $4.75, so it is not really a meal, but at the time it hit the spot.

Let us know if you have any suggestions!



Tick..tick…ticking…time is ticking as we prepare for our trip to Sweden & Scotland. Less than 24 hours from now we’ll be en route to Stockholm, Sweden on SAS airlines for a much anticipated trip of a lifetime. We look forward to catching some shut-eye on the flight as we try to recuperate from a whirlwind month. Preparing to move our household, moving our household to Denver, putting our household into storage in Denver for 3 months, & traveling back to Batavia with stops to see family &  friends along the way, have all made us feel like we’re spinning. Copies of pertinent family history are made, travel documents prepared, and a month away has been carefully managed.

Sweden will involve a tour of Steve’s heritage including Olson (Felt), Ericson, Bengtson, & Anderson. Perhaps we’ll return to the states with a St. Lucia crown as a souvenir. Steve has carefully copied family history that cousins have provided so that we can more readily search for more information or at the very least know where family once lived. After 13 days in Sweden, we will fly to Edinburgh, Scotland.

Scotland will be the place to capture my McLennan heritage in the Scottish Highlands. With great-grandfather Lachlan’s journal in tow, I hope to discover more information about him and his family, who immigrated from Slumbay, Lochcarron. Additionally we’ll stay at locations along their immigration route. Perhaps from Scotland we will return with a kilt!

Our Swedish stays maintain that we’ll have internet access, whereas our Scottish stays may be hit and miss. Therefore, we’ll update as time, language challenges, and internet access permit.

Please keep in mind that if you post a comment, this is a public site. We would encourage you not to provide information that would breach your privacy. That being said, we do hope you’ll keep us posted as well.