Considering I grew up in southern Indiana, went to school in northern Indiana, lived in Illinois for 27 years, and now live in Florida, it’s no wonder that I get tired of flat landscapes. I love mountains and unique topographies, and what better place to do that then in the old west? My first time seeing the Rockies was the summer before my freshman year in high school, when I attended a Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp in Estes Park, Colorado. It was then that I fell in love with mountains, and nothing makes me happier than to see them. I consider any state west of Texas up to the Dakotas to be West.

Because of that, I want to continue to spend more time in the West. Denver, Phoenix, and Las Vegas are fun and easy to go to, but I think something in northern Arizona, Utah, and maybe even Montana would be nice. Of course, there’s always Oregon and Washington. All in all, we haven’t had a bad trip out west, and we hope to see more of it.

The West

Jul 1997—Denver and Colorado springs area

After we had so much fun on our first Disney vacation, I got the bug and began working on my first detailed family vacation. I was completing a project for Comdisco in Denver, and I loved the mountains so much, I decided to do a vacation in Colorado.


I split it into three base locations: Denver, Colorado Springs, and Vail, and then planned various adventures out of each location. I mixed amusement with nature with excitement with relaxation and shopping. The mix was perfect.

Alicia was 10 years old and Dana was 8-1/2.

Text Box: 9/11 caused a short hiatus on our vacations: the economy started to tank; the company I worked for 14 years went bankrupt and was sold to its competitor. I was out of work for 3 months. Things began to improve in 2004, though, so it was time to get back on that horse. After the success of our Colorado trip, I decided to try another vacation that had to do with nature. At the same time, I wanted to scratch off a few states from my list of those I'd never been to. That's why I focused in on Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park. I knocked off WY, MT, and ID in one vacation, and we saw a lot of really cool stuff along the way. 

Text Box: Aug 2004—Casper and Yellowstone areas

This was over our 25th wedding anniversary. We planned a vacation in the fall to go to South Africa, which we called our anniversary vacation, but we wanted to go somewhere over the actual date. We spent a couple of days in the Tucson area before moving to Scottsdale and meeting up with my parents. Over the course of 10 days, we went to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, went fishing, went shooting, did a hot air balloon ride for the first time, rode an ATV through the desert, climbed a mountain, and basically had a great time with my parents.

Mar 2011—Tucson & Phoenix

This was the first time at our new home at the Westin Kierland Villas. We had nothing specific planned for the week, but we ended up doing some horseback riding, hiking, driving along the Apache Trail, visiting a zoo/aquarium, and just enjoying the amenities at the resort. It was a little cool in Phoenix for the locals, but we thought the weather was wonderful, and we had a really good time.

Nov 2012—Scottsdale

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I had a conference in Seattle, so Madeline came with me to check out the area. It turned out that the city got a bunch of snow, which is very unusual, but not before we had a chance to check out Rainier. Madeline also went to the Pike Place Market and saw a bridge troll.

Nov 1996—Seattle

We traded our Starwood Vacation Network villa from Scottsdale to Avon, Colorado, which is located about 10 miles west of Vail. We didn’t really know what we’d do in the middle of ski country during early summer, so we kind of winged it. We ended up getting some decent suggestions from the concierge at the resort, most related to hiking and biking. After one great sightseeing day, we had three days in a row where we hiked up, down, or around a mountain. It turned out to be a very energetic vacation, but a rather inexpensive one at the same time. It’s definitely something that we’d do again in the future.

Jun 2016—Colorado Rockies

I won a free trip with Marriott Vacation Club and originally we were going to go to St. Kitts in December. Unfortunately Madeline ended up in the hospital, so we had to cancel. When we rebooked it, we gave MVC a few different destinations that we suggested and we wanted to do it over Madeline’s birthday. This was the one that was available, so we stayed at the Marriott Grand Chateau.

Mar 2017—Las Vegas

We were still on a mission to get Madeline her 50 states by her 50th birthday. Nebraska was one that was missing. Although I kept thinking I might get to Omaha on business, it wasn’t happening, so we planned a trip to Denver, drove up to Sidney, NE, and then spent some time around Ft. Collins, CO. Even though people thought we were crazy to vacation in Nebraska, we were actually very happy about this trip. We had a lot of fun seeing some beautiful landscapes. And yes, I realize that according to the map above, Nebraska is in the Midwest, but we were barely over the border of Colorado and we spent more time in Colorado anyway.

Jul 2013—Colorado & Nebraska

Our goal now was for Madeline to reach all 50 states before she turns 50. I didn’t feel like being at home on my 50th birthday, I needed to take a trip to ensure I reached Platinum on American Airlines, and there were some sales, so we took off to New Mexico. We spent two nights in Santa Fe and two in Albuquerque, and we had lots of fun driving around the countryside. We were recommended a place to go from an old classmate and we were extremely pleased with the choice. This is definitely a state that I could go to again.

Dec 2011—New Mexico
New MexicoArizona

Madeline and I went to Oregon for her cousin's wedding. It was one of the states I had never been to, so like Earl, I needed to cross it off my list. Only 4 more to go by the way. Anyway, we went to Canon Beach, where the famous Haystack Rock resides. The whole Oregon coast is beautiful, if you like the whole rock formation in the water sort of thing. For the record, I do.

Sep 2005—Canon Beach, ORegon

We went on this trip with my friend, Steve Harris, and his girlfriend at the time (now wife) Karen. We had been away from the girls for periods of time here or there, but this was the first long period (and Thanksgiving) without them. We flew into Las Vegas and spent a couple of days there, drove to the Grand Canyon and spent a night there, and then finished it off with a few nights in Phoenix. We had a great time.

Nov 1993—Vegas, Grand Canyon, & Phoenix

Mel moved to Scottsdale to work a management training deal with Hyatt. For his and Alicia’s 1st Anniversary, Alicia went out to spend time with him for a couple of weeks. We joined the two the day after their anniversary and spent a week at Marriott’s Canyon Villas at Desert Ridge, which is one of their vacation club properties. We didn’t really plan any activities, but we ended up in Sedona and going horseback riding among other things. We really just went to spend time with Mel and Alicia, and we had a great time doing it.

Apr 2018—Phoenix for Mel