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S: The Trip of a lifetime 2011!

1: To Mom and Dad..... Thank you for all of your help, guidance, support and love to make this amazing trip happen!! Love Leah

2: EMBARKING ON A ONCE IN A LIFETIME ADVENTURE!!! | Michigan | Wyoming | Montana | Idaho | Washington | Oregon | Utah | California | Arkansas | Pennsylvania | New Jersey | New York | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Minnesota | South Dakota | Maine

3: The adventure begins Christmas night 2010 to beat the impending blizzard! Routes have to be changed and goodbyes made shorter to get the adventure started safely. The bags are all packed, not everything fits in the car, and note to self.. car with the rooftop carrier doesn't fit in the garage! Mom as the copilot.. GPS destinations entered we make our way to Scranton PA for our first night away. After making it through with only a dusting of snow, day 2 to Columbus Ohio is also under our belts. Not much to sight see just a lot of driving and memorable bonding! | 12-25-2010-12-26-2010

4: 12-27-2010 | First exciting Stop... Birth place of Abe Lincoln Mom found the Passport book which started it all... The beginning of a mission to see how many national parks we could go to! | Abe's original cabin, located inside the monument | Tour boat ride through the lost river the hiding spot of Jesse James. Stopped at Mammoth Caves as well to get our second stamp in our passport book!! All on the way to Nashville!

5: 12-27-2010 | Merry Christmas Mom! ICE Exhibit Carved from 2 million pounds of ice!

6: 12-27-2010 - 12-28-2010 | Gaylord Opryland Hotel

7: NASHVILLE | 12-28-2010 | Downtown Nashville A walk down Broadway by famous restaurants and the Ryman Music Hall... Which took a few loops around the block to find! After exploring the inside of our hotel by foot and boat with all of the Christmas decorations we were ready to head to see where Elvis Lived!

8: Graceland | Elvis Doesn't live in the nicest section of town! Saw the mansion and wrote (Sharon and Leah) on the front wall of the home | Casey Jones Country Store | 12-28-2010 | 40

9: After checking out Elvis's house we headed downtown to walk down Beale Street and take a Trolley RIde of the RIver Front and Main street | 12-28-2010

10: Headed to Oklahoma... | On the way to Oklahoma city stopped at Little Rock Central High School where the Little Rock 9 started School desegregation Check into our hotel and Met Up with my friends Joe, Suk, Elizabeth and Little Joey Farone at a Mexican restaurant downtown. | 12-29-2010 | Next stop Oklahoma city bombing Memorial. After Dinner we went to memorial which is located in the middle of Oklahoma city. After stepping through the Gates of time, an eerie silence came over the area despite its location in the city, very moving experience!

11: Gates of Time These monumental twin gates frame the moment of destruction – 9:02 a.m. – and mark the formal entrances to the Memorial. The East Gate represents 9:01 a.m. on April 19, and the innocence of the city before the attack. The West Gate represents 9:03 a.m., the moment we were changed forever, and the hope that came from the horror in the moments and days following the bombing. | The Survivor Tree The Survivor Tree, an American Elm, bore witness to the violence of April 19, 1995, and withstood the full force of the attack. Years later, it continues to stand as a living symbol of resilience. The circular promontory surrounding the tree offers a place for gathering and viewing the Memorial. | Field of Empty Chairs The 168 chairs represent the lives taken on April 19, 1995. They stand in nine rows to represent each floor of the building, and each chair bears the name of someone killed on that floor. Nineteen smaller chairs stand for the children. The field is located on the footprint of the Murrah Building. | 12-29-2010

12: 12-30-10 | On the way to Santa Fe New Mexico.. Stopped off on Route 66 which runs parallel to Rt 40. Also stopped at Cadillac Graveyard on the side of the road. Someone gave us some spray paint and we wrote on one of the cars.. LH SH 2010

13: One way to get the most out of Life is to look upon it as an adventure!! | Driving on Route 40 across New Mexico on the way to Santa Fe. Tumbleweed blowing everywhere! We decide to stop in Santa Rosa at DQ for a drink. Within 10 minutes the temperature drops significantly and the sky turns black. We go out to see what is happening and the snow begins to fall and soon HWY 40 shuts down. We are forced to get one of the last rooms at the Holiday Inn and eat dinner at the Santa Fe Grille.. Made for an interesting evening... Never made it to Santa Fe.. :-( | 12-30-10

14: Sight seeing while stuck in Santa Rosa.. Making the best of things! | 12-30-2010

15: 54 70 10 | After much debate and talking to snow birds we have a deadline to make.. So to Sharon's dismay we leave for AZ.. Headed on a southern route by Mexico because Route 40 is Closed. Roads are still snow covered and icy... driving is not advised.. After driving through several snow covered windy roads while informing family of where we are because there is no cell service and minimal other cars, we finally see the welcome to AZ sign! After driving from CT to AZ I have to relinquish the wheel to the copilot after feeling ill from all of the excitement this morning. We drive by several small "towns" praying that Casa Grande will not be ANYTHING like these towns, even get stopped by border patrol. We do not make it to Casa Grande in time, and instead stop in Tuscon for the night. We stay at the WIndmill suites and have a great New Years eve Dinner and celebratory glass of wine at Zinburger! On to Tierra Pointe in Casa Grande tomorrow! | 12-31-2010

16: We were able to take a break from moving in to catch UCONN play in the Fiesta Bowl out in Phoenix! 1-1-2011

17: The place wasn't ready yet.. but this was my new pad for 3 months.. This is the view from the deck, not too bad! | 1-1-2011

18: It was a very quiet drive to the airport in the morning. Dropping mom off to fly home and begin this crazy adventure on my own... stopped off in Scottsdale on the way home to keep my mind off things! | 1-2-2011

19: Exploring south mountain the first weekend in Arizona! | 1-9-2011

20: Old Town Trolley was recommended as #1 sightseeing in San Diego! Hop on and off the trolley anytime and see all of the major sights in the city! 1-15-2011

21: Old Town San Diego Market Place with street tacos, handmade gifts, historic buildings, margaritas and mariachi bands! Last stop on the Old Town Trolley Tour! | 1-15-2011

22: Cabrillo National Monument Another stamp in the book! Point Loma monument, tidal pools and the light house on the tip of San Diego overlooking the harbor and city. Also went to Coronado Island looking for sand dollars on the beach and sight seeing! | 1-16-2011

23: 1-16-2011

24: Went on a Whale Watch on Sail San Diego, a Sailboat that took 6 of us out to chase whales.. Saw some whales and seals on the trip! Also passed by a naval dolphin training area. Went out and around by Cabrillo Light house a national monument! | 1-16-2011

25: 1-16-2011

26: Sunrise at the Sheraton Marina hotel looking over the harbor. Shops and sight seeing near the hotel at Seaport Village. | 1-15-2011 - 1-16-2011

27: Sights at Balboa Park, one of the stops on the Trolley | 1-16-2011

28: 02-05-2011

29: Took a flight into LA for the weekend, then hopped on the ferry to Catalina Island. Stayed at the Canyon resort and spa just outside of town. Its a small little Island, but I was able to get in a lot of sight seeing. Hiked over Wrigley Mountain to the highest point on the Island, hiked up to the Chime tower, went shopping downtown and enjoyed some delicious Fish tacos and ice cream. | 02-05-2011

30: View from the botanical Gardens of mountains on the mainland | Hiking up Wrigley Mountain | Hiking through the botanical gardens to the top of Wrigley Mt. Looking towards Avalon and Two Harbors | 2-6-2011

31: Flowers in the Botanical Garden The Town of Avalon | Chime Tower Casino | Avalon Harbor a street on the way to the Chime Tower | 2-6-2011

32: WE WANDER FOR DISTRACTION, BUT WE TRAVEL FOR FULFILLMENT. | Mom and Dad are here to visit! Headed into Scottsdale for some shopping and sightseeing | 02-13-2011

33: HALF THE FUN OF TRAVEL IS THE ESTHETIC OF LOSTNESS. | Casa Grande National Monument | 02-13-2011

34: Sunset at South Mountain | Drove up the winding roads of South Mountain to catch a sunset! 02-13-2011

35: Montezuma Castle and Walnut Canyon stop on the way to the Grand Canyon 02-13-2011 | 240 steps down to Sinagua Cliff Dwelling | Cute Purse Dad | View from in the dwelling | Montezuma Castle

36: Sunset Crater Volcanic Field | 02-16-2011

37: Wupatki National Monument | 02-16-2011

38: Fireplaces of The Grand Canyon | El Tovar Loby | Bright Angel Lodge Museum | Bright Angel Lodge Lobby | Hermits Rest Village | Bright Angel Lodge Lobby | Watch Tower | 02-16-2011

39: The watch tower at the beginning of Desert Drive | 02-16-2011

40: Our cabin at the Bright Angel Lodge at the edge of the Canyon! It was a very cozy stay here.. but it was a great view just steps from the Canyon! 02-16-2011

41: Bright Angel Trail 2-17-2011

42: 2-17-2011

43: 2-17-2011

44: While visiting the Grand Canyon we caught the sunrise at Maricopa Point, hiked down just a little bit on the bright angel trail to the arch way, per my request. It was very icy while we were there. We headed into the town of Tusayan to go shopping and to the National Geographic center. We all decided that we were glad we stayed in the National Park and didn't have to drive! After this we ate dinner at El Tovar in the Grand Dining room where they added a tax for electricity use to our bill! On the way home dad got stopped by ranger rick for missing a stop sign while on the lookout for deer! While at the Grand Canyon we discovered that some national parks have more then one stamp and were able to get our passport stamped at Verkamps visitor center, Kolb studio, Desert view watch tower, Tusayan ruins, Grand Canyon visitors center, and Yavapai observation station. We got all that we wanted to do in before we heard that news that snow was coming in the morning! We prepared to leave early in the morning so that we got out before the snow came and blanketed the canyon and made driving difficult. Next stop Sedona through Oak Creek Canyon Via 89A. We stopped at the famous slide rock where in the summer smooth rock forms a summer playground for adults and kids alike. While in Sedona we stayed at the Real Suites We went to the Holy Chapel and drove the red rock loop and crescent moon picnic area to see all of the red rocks. On the way home from Sedona we stopped at Tuzigoot National Monument to get another stamp for the passport! Dad is enjoying this book just as much as mom and I! | 2-18-2011- 2-19-2011 | Thanks for coming to visit! :-)

46: Drove around the Apache trail to tortilla flat went through a gold mining town on a drive as well as another National Monument! Tonto Cliff Dwellings | National Park Weekend | 2-25-2011

47: Drove the loop at Chiricahua National Monument in southern Arizona and then took a long dirt road through farms to Fort Bowie where I walked 1.5 miles to the ranger station to get my well earned passport stamp! 2-26-2011

48: On the way home from visiting National parks I stopped at Tombstone AZ, an Old West town filled with Saloons, casinos, shops and bullet holes! | 2-26-2011

49: Drove to the southern border of AZ this morning to Tumacacori National historical park, which are ruins of an old church. Got My annual park pass here since i have been to so many parks so far this year! Started snowing while I was here. On the way home, I stopped at Saguaro National Park (which is a type of Cactus). Found my first Petroglyphs here from Hohokam Indians dating A.D. 300 to 1400 | 2-27-2011

50: Moab Utah Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park | 3-04-2011-3-06-2011

51: 3-04-2011-3-06-2011

52: 3-04-2011-3-06-2011

53: 3-04-2011-3-06-2011

54: Palm Springs Headed to see Nicole for the weekend to meet up in Palm Springs! Enjoyed a nice relaxing weekend shopping, sitting by the pool and going out to eat! Drove to Joshua Tree National Park on the way home! | 4-01-2011-4-03-2011

55: The 3 month adventure in Arizona was coming to an end. Made some great friends Eric and Jason, hung out with Lauren Maciag and Nicole Hurley, old friends from back east. Caught some spring training games, met up with Uncle jimmy out in Scottsdale while he was here for work, enjoyed Eric's Sunday soccer games and hanging out, went o palm springs, big bear, Napa, Catalina, Moab, The Grand Canyon, Sedona and several national parks! Lots of great memories made here in the desert! I learned a lot about myself out here. Learned that I was strong, independent and could do anything I put my mind to! I learned to go out to eat, explore, travel and find adventure on my own! Despite several homesick tears overall this was a great experience. On to the next adventure Napa Valley California!

56: La Jolla California | Driving Up the California Coast Pacific Coast High Way San Diego to San Francisco | 4-09-2011

57: 4-09-2011

58: Queen | 4-09-2011

59: Mary | On the drive up the coast I stopped in Long Beach and spent a night on the Queen Mary. It was a neat place with all individual appointed guest rooms all decorated and set up differently. The seafood on board was pretty good too! Wandered the halls of the boat, but didn't have the courage to take the ghost tour! | 4-09-2011

60: Los Angeles | Stopped at Hollywood sign, walk of fame, Hollywood Blvd and Rodeo Dr. | 4-10-2011

61: Pepperdine Malibu CA | On the drive up the coast, met up with Adam at his school, went to lunch in Malibu at Dukes and saw dolphins swimming and jumping while we enjoyed a nice lunch! Pepperdine has a 9-11 Memorial overlooking the ocean we visited. Then went to the Santa Monica Mountains for another Stamp in the Book! | 04-10-2011

62: 04-11-2011

63: 04-11-2011

64: Finally made it up the PCH and inland to Fairfield, my home for the next few months. Staying at the Staybridge Suites while I'm here. Rolling green fields with cows everywhere, vineyards on the drive to work. The Rainbow was the view from my office, over looking the golf course in the country club. | Fairfield | 04-11-2011

65: Down to Monterey CA for a Relay for life fund raiser. Decided to make the most of the weekend and drive 17 Mile drive, tour through Pebble Beach | 04-15-2011-04-16-2011

66: San Francisco | Went into San Francisco to check out the city. Drove across both bridges, took the trolley around the city, down Lombard St., to the wharf area and south of Market area. San Francisco Maritime Museum and Golden gate NRA sites for more stamps in the Book! | 04-17-2011

67: Muir Woods National Park | To Muir Woods National park north of San Fran to see the Redwoods 04-17-2011

68: 04/30/2011-05-01-2011

69: Lake Tahoe | Drove up to Tahoe for the weekend and stayed in Heavenly village at the Marriott Timberwood where the Gondola leaves from. The Gondola was closed for maintenance. Drove around the lake and stopped into some shops and places for dinner. 04-30-2011-05-01-2011

70: Completed the Relay for Life at Monterey Peninsula College with Chris Payne on the West Coast Family Ties team. 05-07-2011

71: Drove through Big Sur on the way home and through Julia Pfeiffer state park to see the waterfalls, hiked the trials and along the coast. | 05-08-2011

72: Yosemite National Park | Drove to the Best Value Inn Friday night to get into the park early Saturday morning. Drove into the actual park, a breathtaking experience at how beautiful it was. Did the Ansel Adams photo walk through the middle part of the park, then took a hike to Vernal Falls, the mist trails, Yosemite falls and Bridal Veil Falls. Had lunch at the Ahwahnee Hotel overlooking a waterfall. Moonlight tour Sat night canceled. Stayed at the El Portal Canyon Lodge Sat night, snowed over night and didn't have chains for my tires, so the road was closed and I was not able to leave the Canyon until snow melted in the afternoon. | Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. ~Albert Einstein | 05-13-2011 - 05-15-2011

74: 05-13-2011 - 05-15-2011

75: The snow finally melted enough and I was able to get out of the beautiful canyon. Headed back to Fairfield. So glad I got to see all of these beautiful waterfalls at a time that they were really flowing due to increased snow this winter! | 05-13-2011 - 05-15-2011

76: San Francisco National Parks To Point Reyes National Park to see the light house, stopped along the way for lots of cow crossings, then to Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site, Rosie the Riveter and Red Oak Victory Ship. Busy passport stamp day! 05-21-2011

77: Off to Fort Brag and Mendicino for the day in search of Sea Glass. The sea glass capitol of the US. Stopped at several sea glass shops along the way, then some shopping, looking at driftwood gardens, walking on Piers, to Glass Beach to collect tons of glass and then to Point Cabrillo Light house, yet another stamp in the Book! | 05-22-2011

78: To Alcatraz and San Francisco for the afternoon with Jess and Jacky while they are out visiting. Took a boat out to Alcatraz and took the audio tour. Then to San Francisco to shop, grab some food on the wharf and in the art district. Went by the full house house, the postcard houses, to the Golden Gate bridge and drove down Lombard St. | Alcatraz | 05-27-2011

79: 05-27-2011

80: To Napa for the day and on a bunch of weekends to visit all of the vineyards, wineries and favorite restaurants. Napa, Sonoma, St. Helena, Calistoga. Loved all of the farm to table fresh food and great wine! | 05-28-2011

81: San Francisco from Treasure Island, Dad's house growing up in Palo Alto, VIneyards, and a view from Twin Peaks Mountains in San Francisco.

82: Another great time working at a country club in an outpatient clinic in Fairfield California. The hotel staff knows me by name and I have gone on tons of amazing adventures. Went to see the Red Sox play the A's, and to see the Giants play the A's at the San Fran stadium which is very neat. Since Arizona I have been to Yosemite to see all of the waterfalls falling down the walls of the canyon, to several National Parks, Tahoe, to get sea glass and to several vineyards throughout the Valley. Headed up the Coast to finish my west coast trip from San Diego to Olympia Peninsula, then to meet mom in Spokane Washington for my trip back east for a summer in Maine. Left after work and headed up to Redding California to stay the night. Woke up and saw the only glass sundial bridge in the US, then to the Burney Falls and to Sea Lion cave in Oregon till I got to my destination for the night of Newport Beach Or. Went to the Bay front district to shop, ate at Bay 839, to the beach for the sunset and sea glass and then fireworks at the beach for their High School Graduation. 06-10-2011- 06-11-2011

83: 06-10-2011 - 06-11-2011

84: Wine Tasting in Oregon | 06-12-2011

85: Went to Astoria on the Goonies tour and to see Kindergarten Cop elementary school then to Portland where I am staying for the night. Went to Hair of the Dog Brewery for some beer tasting. Stopped at Lewis and Clark National Historic Park and Fort Vancouver. | 06-12-2011

86: LIFE IS A JOURNEY, NOT A DESTINATION. | RALPH WALDO EMERSON | 06-13-2011 | Drove up into the Olympic Peninsula, to Olympic National Park and to beaches in search for sea glass. Took the ferry to Seattle where I stayed at the Crowne Plaza in the Executive level suites with a view of the Space Needle.

87: Toured Pikes Market Place and walked around town then ate at the Space Needle! Headed to Chateau St. Michelle on the way to pick up mom at the Spokane airport. 06-13-2011 - 06-14-2011

88: Picked up Mom at the Spokane Airport. A very small airport, with only a few terminals. First nights destination, Idaho! Drove to Kellog Idaho and stayed at the Silver Mountain Resort. The resort looks like a winter Paradise! The rooms were very neatly decorated and we even got to enjoy the roof top hot tub over looking the mountains, watched the sun set and stars come up. The next morning we headed to Yellowstone. Trying to figure out what states we were headed to! On our way we stopped at Grants Kohrs Ranch. We then headed for our hotel, the holiday Inn outside the west gate. After checking in we decided to do 1/2 of the "8 loop" around. We stopped at the first "animals in the roadway" sign to take a picture of a Bison, something that we didn't know yet but would be stopping traffic and crossing the road in front of us several times during this adventure. Next day did the second 1/2 of the loop and our stay at the Old Faithful Inn, with views of old faithful from our 2nd floor room in the new wing. Did a tour of the old Inn, geyser walks, saw 8 bears and several other animals! Bison are EVERYWHERE! 06-14-2011- 06-16-2011

89: 06-14-2011- 06-16-2011

90: 06-14-2011- 06-16-2011

91: 06-14-2011- 06-16-2011

92: Left early in the morning drove out of Yellowstone and headed to Jewel cave where we went down in an elevator to tour the cave, and get ourselves another stamp! Continued our drive and stopped at Devils National Monument Tower an odd shaped rock. Drove to crazy horse and took a bus tour to the base of the mountain. Got to see a replica of what it is to look like if it is ever finished. This year they are working on the finger pointing out straight which is to be the size of a school bus! We were then able to make it to Mt. Rushmore in time for a very moving lighting ceremony for Veterans and to find out "who really is on MT. Rushmore"? We had dinner at Mt. Rushmore and both tried Bison.. Mom having stew and I had chili.. not too bad! | 06-17-2011

93: Woke up early to drive to the wind cave and the minute man missle (good thing we saw the sign!) then headed to the Badlands. Stopped at Wall Drug store and got a photo op with a bison! Drove all the way up to Pipestone National Monument to find out it closed an hour early. Made it to our final destination for the night of Sioux falls and got upgraded to a 2 bedroom suite! Next day headed to the herbert hoover historical site on the way to the Chicago airport. Dropped mom off at the airport and stayed with Tony Gamblin in Chicago. Went out for a night on the town and stayed in his place which was on the 27th floor with a view of the sears tower. Next day to visit Jayne and meet Gavin In Michigan, stopped at Indiana Dunes National lake shore. Next stop to see Lindsay in NYC to meet Nolan. Stopped at Cuyahoga Valley national park. Finally made it home for 1 night then off to the next stop, Maine to start with a White Water rafting weekend followed by a summer of fun! | 06-18-2011- 06-21-2011

95: 30th B day In the WB mason Box for the Sox Game 8-3-2011

96: 08-13-2011 - 08-14-2011

97: Headed up to the National Park in Maine to get my stamp there! Went to Bar Harbor Maine to go to Acadia National Park. Beautiful Seaside towns and lobster shacks on the drive up. Stayed the night at the Bar Harbor Regency Holiday Inn. Pool and tiki bar seaside, with a close proximity to town. | While here drove the park loop Rd, over to Bass Harbor Head lighthouse, to Cadillac Mt for both sunrise and sunset, at low tide hiked over to Bar Island in search of sea glass, then into town for a nice dinner with a Blueberry Margarita Yum! | 08-13-2011 - 08-14-2011

99: Mom, Carla and the kids came up to visit in Saco. Went to Peaks Island for dinner and found tons of sea glass, to the beach in Scarbrough and Kennebunk. | What a fantastic year this has been, making new friends, exploring the country, learning a lot about myself, going to over 45 National Parks and working on my photography skills! I wouldn't trade this year in for the world! It was a once in a life time experience! THANK YOU!

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  • By: Leah H.
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