The Teleis Family 2011 year in review. (in no particular order)
We've always been Disney fans and hadn't been to Florida for a while, so we drove down to Central Florida to spend a little time with the Mouse (and other Disney characters). I had purchased some accommodations a while ago through some time share vendor so we needed to use those or lose them anyway. We spent a couple days in Kissimmee at a time share resort. This was also a nice time to catch up with my good friend Nick Sandora with whom I used to play in the high school band. I think both of us competed for last chair in the clarinet section.
This was our first time with a photo op with Alice Alice is one of my favorite Disney characters.
Here's a picture of Nick Sandora with his two kids and mom Erma.
A huge thanks to Nick and Erma for helping us with park admission!
After spending a couple days in the Orlando area, we then went over to Daytona Beach and spent a little time on the sand. The ocean was a little chilly, but we at least took a little dip just to say we did. We dug a big fort on the beach that at least left some remnants after the overnight tide.
Vacations are never long enough, but we had to return home to the cold of Ohio.
The Great Western Adventure
I had the privilege of representing the Ohio Association for Court Administration at the annual conference of the National Association for Court Management annual conference on Las Vegas. Since all of my travel expenses for the conference were being paid, Lori and I decided to extend the trip by a couple days and have a little adventure. We bought a little 7x7 backpacking tent, a couple backpacks, a few military MREs (meals ready to eat), and other camping gear, left our and headed off into the Nevada's high desert. We traveled out to Rachel, Nevada via the Extraterrestrial Highway to have a nice meal at the Little A-Le-Inn, then off to explore the surrounding area to investigate the rumors of the secret government base affectionately known as "Area 51" or "Groom Lake". We stopped at the "Black Mailbox" (now painted white) a long-time viewing site for watching alien craft flying over the valley. We traveled down to the "front gate" (or as close as we could get to the front gate) and encountered the "cammo dudes" - the secret security force that guards the base. No matter how much we waved at these guys, they wouldn't wave back. (That's not very neighborly of them). So, we took some pictures of the signs that said "photography prohibited" and went on our way.
The road to Rachel - the E.T. Highway. The "Black Mailbox" The "cammo dudes"
Signs at the Groom Lake Base border Our car parked at the border
Outside the Little Ale'Inn Some new friends inside..
The back gate to "Area 51" (in the middle of nowhere and not a soul around)
Not being satisfied that we couldn't see the base from the road, we embarked upon a journey to Tikaboo Peak, the nearest vantage point to see the secret base. It's 26 miles from the base, but the closest we could get. The challenge? To get to the peak, we drove back a cattle trail for about 23 miles off the main road. It's then a 3 hour hike up to the 8000 foot peak. It was getting close to dark when we began our trek up the hill and most of our hike was in the dark. Fortunately, the trail was well marked. It was amazingly quiet (silent) as we climbed. There wasn't a soul around and we heard nothing other than the gentle breeze between the barren hills. We arrived at the Tikaboo summit around 10 PM. It was fascinating to see the secret base all lit up off in the distance. The summit wasn't exactly suited for camping, but we were exhausted, so we wedged our little tent in between some rocks and made the best of it. All was well until about 3 AM when the wind kicked up, blowing through our tent chilling us to the bone.. We installed the rain fly on the tent and wrapped up in our thin blankets as best we could. In the morning, we took some photos, enjoyed the 360 degree panorama and headed back down the mountain. I had a little fall on the descent while trying to walk down some slippery gravel called "scree". That left a nice big bruise on my thigh that is still sore even 7 months later. We safely returned back to the car and continued our adventure.
The hike up to Tikaboo Our little tent set up at the Tikaboo Summit
Tikaboo Peak USGS marker View of the Groom Lake base from Tikaboo Summit (can you see it?)
At the summit Geared-up ready to go back down The descent from the summit
Off to Zion.....
After leaving Tikaboo, we headed off to Zion National Park which was absolutely beautiful. We had reserved the last available campsite which was an RV site (keep in mind, we had only our little 7x7 backpacking tent). We set up camp at Zion and headed off to do a short little evening hike, We came back to the camp for dinner, but due to high forest fire risks, we couldn't make a camp fire, so had had to eat MREs (which were fine for me, but a new experience for Lori). The next morning, we awoke to a gorgeous view of the canyon, packed up our camp and headed up to hike to Angels' Landing. This hike took about 5 hours round-trip and entailed ascending (and later descending) countless switchbacks up the canyon. Once we reached an intermediate point called Scout Lookout, we clammored up the remaining section with the assistance of chains to grasp as we pulled ourselves up the narrow passages. Once we reached the top, the views of the canyon were stunning. We learned that there is no such thing as too much water. We sucked down every drop that we had with us and were happy to return to the bottom to replenish our water supply.
Our teeny little tent in the huge RV campsite. Wifey on the bridge crossing to the Angels Landing trail
The switchbacks on the way up to Angels Landing A photo of us at Angels Landing
(I have no idea how many there are)
After leaving Zion, we enjoyed the scenic drive from Zion to Bryce Canyon. A big difference between Zion and Bryce is that at Zion, you look (and climb) up the canyon while at Bryce you look (and hike) down into the canyon. We camped at a campground outside the park, set up the tent and proceeded to the park. As soon as we got to the rim, the wind and a torrential rain began. We went back to the campground hoping that our little tent had weathered the storm. Although some of the anchors had pulled out, the tent was still there, contents intact. After waiting in line behind a hoard of french teenage girls (who were monopolizing both the women's and men's showers, we took some much needed showers and retired to our teeny tent. Compared to all the RVs and large tents in the campground, our tent was like something found in a childrens' playset. The next morning, we hiked down into the canyon and enjoyed the intense orange tones and rock formations called "hoodoos" around the canyon.
Our little tent at the Bryce Pines Campground One of the beautiful views of Bryce Canyon
If it's not already obvious, we fell in love all over again this Summer.
Back to Vegas....
Reality set up for us and we had to pack up the camp and head back to Las Vegas to return home. It took us a couple hours to pack up all our belongings so we could fit everything in the couple suitcases allowed on the plane. We spent a couple hours walking around in Vegas before heading home. Sad to leave our adventure, but with a newly rekindled relationship, we began plans for next year's great western adventure with the kids.
Roatan - August 2011
Normally this would have been our year to use our condo on Maui, however with skyrocketing airfares and a lack of sufficient frequent flier miles, we couldn't get the whole family there this year. We rented the Maui condo out and traveled to Roatan, Honduras. (While I have taken several dive trips to Roatan, the rest of the family had not been there. There is a huge difference between planning a dive trip and a family trip with diving.). We rented a deluxe two bedroom condo in West Bay which has the nicest beach on Roatan. The water there was crystal clear, and we had a huge healthy reef teeming with life just a few kicks off shore. The dive shop was just a short walk down the beach as was the restaurant where we ate most of our meals. I didn't wear shoes (or shave) pretty much the whole week. Rachel and I did a handful of dives, and I got the usual selection of underwater photos. We also enjoyed a zipline experience with the whole family.
Family Photo on Roatan taken at the end of the zipline tour. West Bay Beach, Roatan
Fall 2011 - Homecoming, Orchestra, etc
Rachel attended the annual homecoming dance with Tyler for the second year in a row. While we were taking homecoming photos, Julia also got dressed up for photos.
Both Rachel and Julia play in the Stow Youth Symphony. Rachel also has a string quartet along with three of her classmates. (The quartet web site is www.stowstrings.com). We are incredibly proud of the musical talents of both kids. Rachel's quartet was invited to play at Stow City Hall for their holiday kickoff activities.
Rachel's quartet after their performance at Stow City Hall The quartet with Frances Hamilton, school orchestra director.
Rachel playing at Stow City Hall Julia at one of the Stow Youth Symphony performances
So these are the highlights of our adventures in 2011. Please friend us on facebook and follow our daily adventures.